Don't get me wrong. I love the idea of a comedy headlined by a paunchy, raunchy, All-American anti-hero. But Danny McBride, who stole the show with supporting roles in Tropic Thunder and Pineapple Express, fails to transcend those one-dimensional parts as the star of HBO's new Eastbound & Down.

Danny McBride is not a leading man.

Don't get me wrong. I love the idea of a comedy headlined by a paunchy, raunchy, All-American anti-hero. But McBride, who stole the show with supporting roles in Tropic Thunder and Pineapple Express, fails to transcend those one-dimensional parts as the star of HBO's new Eastbound & Down.

McBride plays Kenny Powers, a major-league relief pitcher whose once-rising star has fallen thanks to steroids, blow and a John Rocker-like tendency to offend. When his career bottoms out, Powers moves in with his brother's family in his North Carolina hometown and takes a job as a middle school gym teacher.

Powers is the sort of brash, dumb character Will Ferrell specializes in, so it's no surprise Ferrell and creative partner Adam McKay are producers of Eastbound. (Ferrell appears in a few episodes.)

But foremost it's a showcase for McBride, whose contribution to the comedy canon is to act even brasher and dumber than Ferrell's characters. He swears constantly, snorts coke with his bartender and calls prostitutes on his sister-in-law's cell phone. He's so obnoxious that it's hard to believe he will win back his high school sweetheart, even in a comedy.

Still, there are laughs to be had. They just don't come with the frequency or the potency I'd expect from HBO. Like Powers, cable's former gold standard is past its prime and grasping for whatever relevance it can muster.