What the Perfect Woman for a Baseball Nerd Would Be Like
by Scott Long
So if a baseball geek was to go all Weird Science and plug in the characteristics to make the perfect woman, what would she be like? Well obviously she would be a baseball fanatic... she would be sexy...she would love beer and chicken wings...maybe play in a weekly poker game...oh and of course, be a total nympho.
Welcome to TBS' new comedy, "My Boys". The show is set in Chicago, with Jordana Spiro playing the part of a sportswriter who hangs out with a group of guys. The pilot episode uses baseball as an analogy to relationships. While it does have moments that seem forced in trying to stay true to the baseball theme, for a comedy pilot "My Boys" is very well done. There is nothing harder to do in television writing than making a watchable sitcom pilot. Trying to explain a bunch of new characters, while managing to be funny doing it is next to impossible. (If you don't believe me, check out the pilot show of your favorite all-time sitcom. I would bet 75% of them are surprisingly lame.)
"My Boys" centers on Spiro and she pulls off the difficult job of not performing her sports driven dialogue like it's just another acting gig. Instead, Spiro seems very comfortable in her character's skin, with her voice and mannerisms matching what a really cute tomboy would be like. Her profession on the show is one of being a Cubs beat reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times. In this first episode, she ends up falling for another Cubs beat reporter who works for the Chicago Tribune. Kind of like if Carol Slezak and Teddy Greenstein hooked up. This is bit much, but considering I'm a White Sox fan, maybe I'm not the most objective reviewer.
Actually, the weakest part of the show is when Spiro discusses her specific passion for baseball. During the initial five minutes of ever speaking to my wife, she mentioned that she loved the White Sox and hated the Cubs, so I know there are cute girls who love baseball. What I don't buy from the lead character of "My Boys" is that she would brag about having a 1955 Ernie Banks rookie card. Hot babes do not collect baseball cards. Also, I have a lot of doubt that sports reporters during their time off root for their local team like Spiro's character does.
These aren't big enough problems, though, for me not to give a positive review for "My Boys", especially when you add that Jim Gaffigan plays the part of Spiro's brother. Let me offer advice to the creators of the show. In the 3 episodes I've seen so far, more of Mr. Hot Pockets is needed, as he's been severely underused.
As good as Spiro and Gaffigan are in the show, the real breakout star in "My Boys" is Jamie Kaler. Kaler plays a wise-cracking friend, kind of like Chandler from "Friends", if Matthew Perry's character would have owned an actual pair of testicles. Kaler is dynamite and is the most authentic character in the show, as when he's on screen, the "My Boys" has an acerbic edge to its comedy that makes things pop. (I should mention that I've spoken to Kaler one time, for about 10 minutes at an IMPROV comedy club. Pretty non-descript meeting, as it took me half of the pilot to place where I knew him from. )
"My Boys" has a narrative and visual style like "Sex in the City", but does a 180 degree turn in its dialogue. "Sex in the City' always came off to me like what gay men thought women were like, where "My Boys" is written how a sports fanatic would like to hear his dream girl speak. It will be interesting to see how this show develops, but it's the best new sitcom I've seen of 2006.
If you want to catch all the episodes of "My Boys" go to TBS.com, as they all can be accessed there. Since TBS is owned by Time Warner, they have merged their website with fellow corporate family member AOL to create a cool online entertainment site.
TBS has been transitioning over the past year into being like Comedy Central 2. They have become the cable home of Seinfeld, Friends, Everybody Loves Raymond, and Family Guy reruns. Step 2 of their process is creating new original programs and "My Boys" is an excellent start. Last week the network premiered another new sitcom titled "10 Items or Less", which also seems promising.
From the clips I caught of their other new sitcom, "Love Bites", it doesn't have such a good future. While "Friends" was the exception to the rule, if you want to be a funny comedy, don't fill your show with a gorgeous cast. The beautiful people haven't had to go through the minefields which are needed to develop the painful angst which is at the heart of comedy. "Love Bites" lead actors seem too pretty and speak in a fakey dialogue that makes the characters come off like they are giving speeches. I recommend that you go to TBS.com and check them all out for yourselves.