SERIES "A League of Their Own"
WHERE Streaming on Prime Video
WHAT IT'S ABOUT One of the best baseball movies Hollywood ever produced gets remade as an eight-part series for Prime Video.
As most anyone reading this knows, "A League of Their Own" tells the story of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, which began play in 1943 while many of the best male ballplayers were serving in World War II and spanned 14 Midwestern cities at different points throughout its 11-year existence.
This new adaptation, like its predecessor a fictionalized account based on the real league, introduces new characters. It features an ensemble fronted by Abbi Jacobson ("Broad City") as catcher Carson Shaw. She flees married life in Idaho while her husband's overseas for a chance to step up to the plate.
D'Arcy Carden ("The Good Place") plays Greta Gill, another major player on the Rockford Peaches, who strikes up a close bond with Carson.
Other stars include Chanté Adams as Max Chapman, a Black woman who dreams of playing ball and is shut out from the segregated league. Nick Offerman steps into the Tom Hanks part, playing the washed-up former big leaguer Casey "Dove" Porter, who manages the Peaches.
The series is created by Jacobson and Will Graham ("Mozart in the Jungle").
MY SAY This "League" has a lot in common with Penny Marshall's beloved 1992 movie, which remains an indelible part of the culture.
No one bellows "There's no crying in baseball," at least in the first three episodes. But it deftly balances humor and sentimentality, while also achieving moments of genuine inspirational value in its portrait of women coming together to show the patriarchy that they should be taken seriously as athletes, too.
The series also wades into deeper thematic territory than the movie, to the point where the baseball itself sometimes becomes an afterthought.
That's not a criticism, to be sure, but a reflection of the broader perspective possible thanks to the series format. There's plenty of time to focus on the off-the-field struggles that lend extra weight to even the smallest of victories between the foul lines.
Subplots involving Carson's struggle to cope with her increasingly romantic feelings for Greta and Max's efforts to find her way onto a team showcase the immense societal forces opposing these people as they try to live their lives as we all hope we might: by being true to themselves.
"A League of Their Own" smartly deconstructs the different experiences of a Black woman and a white woman at this particular moment in history. But at the same time, it connects them on an emotional level, sharing the frustration of facing these obstacles to fulfilling their shared dream and the crushing burden of knowing that even in doing so, they might disappoint those closest to them.
Put simply, this "A League of Their Own" does what any successful remake must: it finds its own voice, standing apart from its predecessor while also honoring its legacy.
BOTTOM LINE Even the biggest fans of the movie, and there are lots of them, will be happy with this remake.