Toward the end of BYUtv’s documentary about Jimmer Fredette, one of his friends and coaches says the ex-Brigham Young University basketball star “is a guy that people should root for.” And he’s right.
Oh, I’m not saying Utah Jazz fans should have rooted for him quite so hard when he came to town as a member of the Phoenix Suns on March 25. And I’m not arguing that the former college player of the year deserved another shot in the NBA, or that he’s going to stay there for long.
(I write about TV. I’m not a basketball expert, though I’m skeptical about his chances.)
But if you’re rooting against Fredette, it says more about you than it does about him. He’s a nice guy who exceeded expectations in high school and college. He achieved his dream of making it to the NBA, but not his dream of a successful career there — though he’s still trying.
Fredette has never been tied to anything even vaguely illegal or immoral. He didn’t act arrogantly when he was on top of the college basketball world; he didn’t act entitled when his NBA career didn’t turn out “exactly the way that I wanted it to,” as he says in “The Lonely Master” (Saturday, 8 p.m., BYUtv).
“But I’ve worked really, really hard up to this point. I’m going to continue to work hard.”
C’mon, how can you root against the guy? Fredette isn’t Max Hall.
The 75-minute documentary “The Lonely Master” — the title is explained as a translation of Jimmer’s name into Chinese and back again — is, at times, compelling. It’s a truly intriguing look inside the life of an American who goes to China to play professional basketball. “I never thought I’d ever play basketball in China or visit China for any reason,” Fredette says. And it’s fascinating to see Shanghai Sharks fans chanting “Jimmer! Jimmer!”
There was certainly room to focus more on Fredette as a fish out of water in a culture so different from his own and less on individual Chinese Basketball Association games, but “The Lonely Master” is a documentary with a clear goal. It’s trying to make the case that Fredette was done wrong his first time in the NBA, and that he deserved a second chance.
(The doc was pretty much completed when he got that chance with the Suns; a postscript was added with the information that he had, indeed, signed with Phoenix.)
There’s some great stuff in “The Lonely Master” about Fredette playing in China while his wife and baby daughter stayed in Colorado. There’s too little great stuff showing him out and about being greeted by Chinese fans and trying to fit in with a team made up primarily of Chinese players.
But, again, this is a documentary trying to make a point. And, by the way, Fredette himself is one of the executive producers.
"CRAZY EX” ENDS • After 29 years of writing about TV, I try not to get emotional about it. But the end of “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” made me tear up.
Not because the final episode (Friday, 7 p.m., CW/Ch. 30) is sad. It’s not. I don’t want to give anything away, except that Rebecca (Rachel Bloom) makes a not-entirely-unexpected life decision.
But the end of this brave, funny, heartfelt story about a woman dealing with mental illness — accompanied by a lot of great, original, musical numbers — is like losing a friend. There’s nothing else like it on TV.
But wipe away your tears and watch the hour that follows. “Yes, It’s Really Us Singing: The Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Concert Special!” (8 p.m., CW/Ch. 30) features the cast onstage performing a few of the 157 original songs that were part of the series’ 61 episodes.
I hope there’s a longer version of the concert in the DVD/Blu-ray release.