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Oct. 13, 2004

"Clubhouse" is a home run

by Grace Harter, Page Editor
"Clubhouse" is one of those shows that manages to be sweet and heartfelt without feeling stale or making viewers roll their eyes. The latest creation from veteran producers Aaron Spelling and Mel Gibson, "Clubhouse" teaches a lot about life lessons and the world as seen through the eyes of a 16-year-old boy. The scenarios and characters in "Clubhouse" seem real " not like the usual recycled stereotypes many television shows use so often; the show is an overall joy to watch.

The show follows the adventures of Pete Young (Jeremy Sumpter from "Peter Pan"), who is a bat-boy for the New York Empires. (The Empires is a fictitious baseball team standing in for the Yankees.) In the show, Pete tries to balance high school, an overbearing mother and his job. Pete's underlying reason for joining the bat-boys is that baseball has always tied him to his absent father, who, prior to abandoning the family, would often take his son to games. Pete struggles to find a male authority figure on the team, but they seem to be scarce in the world of big-league ball players, who act like spoiled children.

In the special premiere that aired two weeks ago, Pete was just starting his job as a bat-boy for the Empires. He somehow managed to keep secret the fact that he was applying for the job. His mother, Lynne (veteran actress Mare Winningham), was unaware of her son's attempt to balance working at the stadium with getting home before it was late. And one of Pete's first big dilemmas happens very early on, when one of the players asks Pete to drive his Ferrari to the auto shop. Pete is pulled over by a cop, and when the cop asks to see the car's registration, steroids are found in the glove compartment. Pete is torn between incriminating the player and possibly losing his dream job or claiming the drugs are his and facing probation or jail time.

Pete's dilemma was an effective means to draw in viewers watching the premiere of "Clubhouse" because the solution was not so obvious. It's clear within the first 15 minutes of the show that baseball is as important to Pete as his memories of his father. Incriminating one of the players of his favorite team would bring about not only the team's anger but also the anger of other Empire fans, who would hate to see one of their players leave the team. Pete receives mixed messages from all the people from whom he asks help and ultimately he realizes the decision is his alone.

The cast of "Clubhouse" is much like a team itself; all of the actors band together to make a winning show. Veteran actor Christopher Lloyd has the role as the grumbling but lovable equipment manager of the Empires, who will probably play a strong role in Pete's life later on. Former "Superman" actor Dean Cain also has an important role as the team's captain, who seems like a decent guy compared to the other players because his ego is not overly large, and he cares for Pete and the other bat-boys.

Ultimately, "Clubhouse" is about a lot more than baseball and Pete's struggles. Everybody can relate to the pressure Pete feels to do the right thing, and everybody can take lessons away from the moral issues he faces. In the end, "Clubhouse" uses life's most bittersweet moments and turns them into a sincere and feel-good show.

"Clubhouse" airs on Tuesday nights at 9:00 p.m. on CBS.

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  • Anonymous on October 14, 2004
    It's a great show.
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