It’s Showtime for Giants in ‘The Franchise’ 

“Mark it down, repeat.” Those are the confident, if not unabashedly cocky, words of Giants closer Brian Wilson in the opening moments of the preview for “The Franchise: A Season with the San Francisco Giants,” which aired in April on Showtime.

The Giants are back on the small screen today at 10 p.m. with the premiere episode.

As the docuseries’ obvious comedic ringleader, Wilson (who’s already starred in the offbeat reality series “Life of Brian”) should provide plenty of antics in all eight episodes, but producers also promise up-close-and-personal drama with a variety of the team’s personalities as the 2010 World Series champions try to defend their title in 2011.

The Giants have put on quite a show thus far, jumping to first place in the NL West at the All-Star break in spite of a number of injuries that have forced manager Bruce Bochy to juggle his roster yet again — and even find some bright spots, like first-time All-Star Ryan Vogelsong.

“You couldn’t write a script with this many twists and turns,” executive producer of the show Mike Tollin said.

Tollin said a big chunk of the first episode will delve into Buster Posey’s infamous season-ending injury — the team’s most-talked about hurdle this season — as well as the resurgence of big guns Pablo Sandoval and Barry Zito.

A film crew from Major League Baseball Productions began filming the Giants at their winter meetings late last year and will conclude filming by August, according to Tollin, who also worked with the club during ESPN’s “Bonds on Bonds” series in 2006.

Tollin said the show evolved from an idea presented by David Nevins, president of Showtime, who envisioned a dramatic, unscripted documentary-like series that followed “a team playing at the highest level in one of the prominent American sports, and during regular season, when the stakes were highest.”

As ensuing conversations turned to baseball, the Giants shot to the top of the creators’ minds.

“I just felt like it was kind of a perfect storm in that this was a winning team, composed of guys many of whom were castoffs, really unlikely heroes — a very colorful cast of characters — that I thought would be comfortable with the presence of cameras and give us extraordinary insight,” Tollin said.

While many voiced concerns when the show was announced in January over the possible distraction that film crews could present to the team, Tollin said the majority of players and coaches were already comfortable being filmed.

“I think there’s a great relationship between Major League Baseball Productions and the team,” Tollin said. “After all, a lot of the crew are the same guys that covered the team during the playoffs and World Series.”

 

Ready for a closeup

WHAT: “The Franchise: A Season with the San Francisco Giants”

WHEN: Premieres tonight at 10 p.m.

CHANNEL: Showtime

SCHEDULE: The show will air the next eight Wednesdays at 10 p.m.; tonight’s episode is one hour long, while the following seven shows will be 30 minutes in length

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Chris Middleton

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