My DVR taped The Bronx is Burning when it re-ran on MSG a few months ago. For some reason, I missed seeing the final episode when it initially ran on ESPN, so I finally got to see that, as well as re-watching the rest of the episodes. Few things I noticed on the second viewing of the series:
* I thought Oliver Platt was a buffoon as George Steinbrenner the first time around. He didn't bother me as much the second time; maybe it's that I miss the Boss' larger-than-life personality
* The best thing about the series was Erik Jensen's portrayal of Thurman Munson. He is the only character where you really suspend disbelief and think that you're seeing the player himself, and not an actor. His portrayal was so good, that it rekindled interest in the captain's life, to the point where Marty Appel was able to writer the excellent Munson: The Life and Death of a Yankee Captain.
* The actor who played Lou Piniella looked more like Bill Murray than anybody else. I half-expected him to start talking about "Groundhog Day" or something.
* Daniel Sunjata, who plays Reggie Jackson, is too handsome for the role -- at no point did I think that I was watching anything other than somebody portraying Reggie.
* John Turturro's Billy Martin portayal was pretty good, but they overdid the ears. Billy didn't look like Dumbo in pinstripes, after all!
* Watching the Billy/Reggie interactions reminded me a lot of Torre and A-Rod -- just two people who didn't get along, and didn't even understand each other. I knew that Billy didn't want to bat Jax fourth for a long, long time, but it took until mid-August for him to put him in the cleanup role. How insane was that? If Steinbrenner hadn't threatened Billy with his job if he didn't put Jackson fourth, the Yankees wouldn't have made the playoffs. (Uncle Mike, you should do one of your what-if scenarios about this!)
* And how about Billy benching Reggie in Game 5 against Kansas City? That was another crazy move. But remember, Reggie really didn't become known as Mr. October until Game 6 of the 1977 World Series.
* Cool touch to have reporters like the late Maury Allen and Steve Jacobson interviewing players.
* Did Joe DiMaggio really give Reggie Jackson a pep talk, comparing him to other Yankee greats like himself, before Game 6? It's not mentioned in the book the show is based on, Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bronx Is Burning: 1977, Baseball, Politics, and the Battle for the Soul of a City. But it's one of those stories you wished really happened!
* I loved seeing the epilogue, where real-life clips of Reggie, Thurman, Billy and George were shown from that time period. Made me sad to think that three of the four are no longer with us.
Up next? Getting caught up on "The Tenth Inning!"
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