My Boys was one of the unexpected pleasures of last summer. The sitcom about a female Chicago sportswriter who covered Da Cubs, was often insightful without being preachy and melded moments of drama and humor in a manner that seemed effortless [but probably wasn’t]. P.J. Franklin and her boys return Monday [TBS, 10/9C] with a special two-episode premiere. P.J. and her boys have a number of traditions – but none more significant than their fantasy baseball league draft and hitting the park for opening day. This year, though, things will be a bit different…
Circumstances are definitely conspiring against P.J. [Jordana Spiro] in A Promise of a New Season. As the group holds its annual fantasy baseball draft, Brandon [Reid Scott] seems a bit off. First he brings his girlfriend to the draft, then he drafts a player that is generally accepted as one P.J. gets [in return, she drafts one of his “given” players]. Thanks to Andy’s [Jim Gaffigan] new home in the ‘burbs, he’s caught in traffic and making his draft selections over the phone. To further add to the tumult, Kenny shows up with his new girlfriend – who is in her third trimester! It doesn’t much before the draft falls apart and P.J. and Brando are sniping at each other.
In Off Day, P.J. gets the call – she’s asked to appear on a popular sports-talk show and things go very badly – especially when the boys try not to let her know how much she stank up the joint. Meanwhile, P.J.’s best friend, Stephanie [Kellee Stewart] is trying to persuade her to buy a two-for-one ticket for an Italian cruise – surely, they’ll have boyfriends by October!
By now, TBS has weeded out audience members who grew tired of P.J.’s voiceover baseball metaphors. This is good because those metaphors are in full swing as the second season begins. At this point, the show’s creative team is showing remarkable chemistry – The Promise of a New Season is a leadoff double, at least – and Off Day is an RBI single.
Tomboy P.J. and her group of male friends seem more comfortable, and more open than ever. When conflicts arise, they snipe and whine and make up just like real folk [though they seem to be paid much better – their poker nights appear to require an almost ungodly amount of chips]. The unique voice of each relationship contained within the larger group is more sharply defined than in season one, and the group dynamic is made more complex by the introduction of Kenny’s very pregnant girlfriend [Nicole Sullivan in a two-ep stint].
One of the reasons that My Boys is such a sharp piece of work could be that the show runs a limited number of eps each season. In grand cable style, this means that each ep is honed to a fare thee well. Of course, the best writing in the world won’t make a show good if the cast isn’t up to the challenge, and the My Boys team plays like the Miracle Mets, and not their beloved Cubbies.
This season’s nine eps look to be even better than the first season, if the three eps I screened are any indication [next week’s ep looks at the ethics of P.J. dating a member of the Cubs’ team in an ep appropriately entitled Ethics]. These eps balance multiple plot and character arcs with wit, charm and, yes, great humor. There are enough dramatic moments to put the comedy into the sharpest possible relief, and there are more laugh-out-loud moments, so far, than there were last year at this point [and that’s saying something!].
Even though I’m not a baseball fan [was it Robin Williams who described it as “cricket on quaaludes?], I find that the way My boys parallels life with the game. The sports metaphors that are P.J.’s prime method of life analysis actually work better for me, I suspect, than the hardcore fan – likely because they are fresher for me…]. Whatever the case, TBS has a real twenty-game winner here…
Final Grade: A-