The 1992 movie “A League of Their Own” got a small screen adaptation in Prime video series of the same name.
The score is amusing enough and should win over nostalgic fans – but it’s not exactly a trip home.
streaming now, “A League of Their Own,” has a similar premise to the movie, which starred Tom Hanks, Gina Davis, Rosie O’Donnell, Madonna, and Jon Lovitz. Created by Will Graham (“Mozart in the Woods”) and Abby Jacobson (“Broad City”), which also stars in the title role, the series is set in 1943 and follows the Rockford Peaches, a women’s team in the new All American Girls Professional League, formed because World War II threatened Major League Baseball’s existence with men from fighting abroad.
The series begins with Carson Shaw (Jacobson) taking a train from Idaho to Chicago for baseball auditions. On the way, she meets and befriends fellow baseball hopefuls Greta (D’Arcy Carden, “The Good Place”) and Joe (Melanie Field).
There is no single translation from the movie. Carson has roughly the same background as Geena Davis’ character – a housewife turned diamond with her husband at war – but she has a different name, and no sister or plot explores her gender identity (not in the movie). Nick Offerman plays Tom Hanks as their coach, but here’s Dove Porter, not Jimmy Dugan, and he’s not an alcoholic. Many of the other plot points remain the same, such as handling of skeptical fans and media, unwieldy uniforms (they insist “we can’t play in skirts!”) and some inconsistencies with each other, even when they are grouped together from the game. Original star Rosie O’Donnell cameos as a waiter.
“A League of Their Own” also takes a deeper look into issues of race and LGBTQ+ than its big-screen predecessor. When two black women, bowler Max Chapman (Chant Adams) and her best friend Clans Morgan (Gbemisola Ecomelo), appear at auditions, they are told to “go home” precisely because of their race. Meanwhile, Carson’s relationship with Greta quickly turns into a sweet one. These elements deepen the story and explain why a movie like this could be adapted into a show – it has something new to say and blends in with the film.
But these qualities alone, while welcome, cannot make it a winning game. Much of the pace has a zigzag feel to a particularly monotonous baseball entry, while Max’s story is largely isolated from the rest of the plot – which often feels like the show pauses for a while until the stories fit in.
Much of the dialogue is also disturbingly modern (it is peppered with Carson’s “like” and “I mean” speech and phrasing such as “so excited!”). While in some shows the anachronisms act as a deliberate choice (“Dickinson, for example), here they are shown to be unfamiliar, as if “A League of Their Own” is unable to decide whether it wants to feel rooted in the WWII era Or rather, a modern series that simply has some window adornment from that era, but otherwise ignores it.
For fans of the movie, it is worth watching. And for those looking for a drama about women playing baseball in the 1940s that doesn’t ignore topics like race and gender, it’s fun enough to watch. The cast is great, and the issues they face seem objective. But it’s also choppy and uneven — with the show’s feel clearing its throat and trying to decide on its tone during an appearance.
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