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TV Stars? They Might Be Giants

A new reality show goes behind the scenes with baseball's reigning champs

Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way," wrote Tolstoy. Ol' Leo was not a big baseball fan, but his aphorism gets at the challenge faced by Showtime and MLB Productions with The Franchise, their new weekly reality series about the San Francisco Giants. (The six-episode run began on July 13.) As with other sports cinema-verité programs, such as HBO's Hard Knocks and 24/7, the producers have been granted behind-the-scenes access. Those other series, though, featured either struggling teams (the Chiefs, the Bengals), a pitched rivalry (Capitals-Penguins) or a larger-than-life character (Rex Ryan). These Giants, by contrast, are basking in the glow of the club's first world championship in San Francisco and a sparkling current season. So in the opener, we see a sunny bunch, often portrayed in quick, superficial vignettes. That doesn't always make for gripping TV.

Still, The Franchise is never less than watchable. Clearly, the hope is to make a Rex Ryan--like star out of closer Brian Wilson, he of the demonic gleam. Another blithe spirit is third baseman Pablo (Panda) Sandoval, who exults when a scale reveals he has lost 35 pounds. And we are on hand as righthander Matt Cain changes diapers.

The first episode covers, seemingly from every possible angle, catcher Buster Posey's season-ending injury on May 25. But the most poignant story arc belongs to righthander Ryan Vogelsong. A journeyman long shot for the rotation, he pitches so well that manager Bruce Bochy, who's also the NL skipper, names him to the All-Star roster. When Bochy breaks the news, the manager gets misty as he says, "This is an awesome moment for you but for all of us too." If The Franchise can summon more such moments, it might have its own championship season.

I Know What You Did This Summer

Charting an eventful lockout off-season spent away from the watchful eye of the NFL

D. HESTER

PARENTING COLUMNIST

C. COOLEY

POTTERY ARTIST

Z. MESKO

PRIVATE EQUITY INTERN

R. EDWARDS

T. ZBIKOWSKI

PROFESSIONAL BOXER

T. SUGGS

STARTED MOVIE COMPANY

E. MATHIS

FILMED LOCKOUT DOCUMENTARY

L. POPE

SAVED DROWNING CHILD

J. WITTEN

ARCHIE COMICS APPEARANCE

K. KOLB

TOURNAMENT ANGLER

D. BRUTON

SUB. TEACHER

C. OCHOCINCO

MLS, BULLRIDING

R. RYAN

MOVIE CAMEO

J. GREEN

G. JENNINGS

D. CLARK

TELEVISION APPEARANCE

D. JONES

T. TEBOW

AUTHOR

UNDERWEAR MODEL

C. KLUWE

B. LLOYD

METAL SALES

MUSIC

B. GREEN-ELLIS

FLEW WITH THUNDERBIRDS

J. CUTLER

ENGAGED

B. ROETHLISBERGER

WEDDING: JULY 23

M. BENNETT

T. ROMO

J. FLACCO

MARRIED

B. UNDERWOOD[subscript 5]

ARRESTED: DISORDERLY CONDUCT

A. TALIB [subscript 5]

C. COOK [subscript 3]

ARRESTED: WEAPONS

A. APPLEWHITE[subscript 2]

H. WARD[subscript 5]

DWTS WINNER

ARRESTED: DUI

J. JAMES[subscript 2]

L. MARONEY[subscript 5]

J. JOLLY[subscript 1]

L. MURPHY[subscript 6]

K. BRITT[subscript 2]

ARRESTED: DRUGS

C. PENNINGTON

T. OWENS

TORE ACL (NONFOOTBALL)

K. COLLINS

M. VRABEL[subscript 7]

RETIRED

R. BROCK[subscript 5]

ARRESTED: THEFT

G. WOLFE[subscript 2]

E. GRIFFEN[subscript 4]

A. JORDAN[subscript 5]

ARRESTED: ASSAULT

P. JONES[subscript 5]

ARRESTED: BAR FIGHT

KEY: 1. PLEADED GUILTY 2. PLEADED NOT GUILTY 3. FOUND NOT GUILTY 4. CHARGES DROPPED 5. COURT DATE UPCOMING 6. REACHED PLEA DEAL 7. SIGNED A DIVERSION AGREEMENT

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PAUL KITAGAKI JR./SACRAMENTO BEE/MCT/LANDOV (WILSON)

CLOSER CLOSE-UP The wild and woolly Wilson is a sure focus.

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NFL/GETTY IMAGES (HESTER)

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NFL/GETTY IMAGES (COOLEY)

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NFL/GETTY IMAGES (MESKO)

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NFL/GETTY IMAGES (MATHIS)

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NFL/GETTY IMAGES (POPE)

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NFL/GETTY IMAGES (KLUWE)

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NFL/GETTY IMAGES (CLARKE)

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NFL/GETTY IMAGES (BRUTON)

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NFL/GETTY IMAGES (GREEN-ELLIS)

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NFL/GETTY IMAGES (ROETHLISBERGER)

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NFL/GETTY IMAGES (UNDERWOOD)

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NFL/GETTY IMAGES (PENNINGTON)

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NFL/GETTY IMAGES (MURPHY)

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NFL/GETTY IMAGES (JOLLY)

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NFL/GETTY IMAGES (MARONEY)

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NFL/GETTY IMAGES (JAMES)

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NFL/GETTY IMAGES (VRABEL)

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NFL/GETTY IMAGES (WOLFE)

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NFL/GETTY IMAGES (GRIFFEN)

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NFL/GETTY IMAGES (JORDAN)

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NFL/GETTY IMAGES (COOK)

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MIKE MCGINNIS/CAL SPORT MEDIA (EDWARDS)

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JOE KOHEN/WIREIMAGE.COM (ZBIKOWSKI)

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GETTY IMAGES (SUGGS)

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JOE SCARNICI/GETTY IMAGES FOR MADDEN BOWL XVII (WITTEN)

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EUGENE GOLOGURSKY/WIREIMAGE FOR HAMPTONS GOLF CLASSIC (D. JONES)

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FREDERICK M. BROWN/GETTY IMAGES (JENNINGS)

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STEW MILNE/US PRESSWIRE (GREEN)

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DAVID BERGMAN (RYAN)

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MICHAEL BUCKNER/GETTY IMAGES FOR MERCEDES-BENZ (OCHOCINCO)

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JOHNNY NUNEZ/WIREIMAGE.COM (KOLB)

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MICHAEL HICKEY/GETTY IMAGES FOR GREY GOOSE (LLOYD)

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PETER READ MILLER (TEBOW)

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TODD WILLIAMSON/GETTY IMAGES (CUTLER)

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WESLEY HITT/GETTY IMAGES (BENNETT)

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MICHAEL LOCCISANO/GETTY IMAGES FOR TIME WARNER (ROMO)

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SIMON BRUTY (FLACCO)

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LARRY BUSACCA/GETTY IMAGES (OWENS)

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BENNETT RAGLIN/WIREIMAGE.COM (BRITT)

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ICON SMI (APPLEWHITE)

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BRETT DAVIS/US PRESSWIRE (TALIB)

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ANDREW H. WALKER/GETTY IMAGES FOR BMI (COLLINS)

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ARNOLD TURNER/WIREIMAGE.COM (BROCK)

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TOM UHLMAN/AP (P. JONES)

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ADAM TAYLOR/ABC (WARD)