[11/27/06 - 02:02 PM]
The Futon's First Look: "My Boys" (TBS)
By Brian Ford Sullivan (TFC)

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The network's description: "(from TBS's press release) MY BOYS is a half-hour scripted comedy series starring Jordana Spiro (JAG, Must Love Dogs) as PJ, a twenty-something "guy's girl" who tries to find romance within her world dominated by male friends. As a huge sports fan and professional sportswriter, she has a masculine, no-nonsense, sports-analogous approach to dating that often freaks out potential boyfriends. Her only female friend advises her to dress and act more feminine, but it's hard for PJ to shake off her tomboy qualities. Jim Gaffigan (That �70s Show, Ed), Jamie Kaler (The Family Stone), Michael Bunin (Scrubs), Reid Scott (American Dreams), Kyle Howard (Related, Orange County) and Kellee Stewart (Guess Who?) co-star in this series from Sony Pictures Television and Pariah. MY BOYS is being executive-produced by Gavin Polone (Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Gilmore Girls), Jamie Tarses and writer Betsy Thomas (Run of the House)."

What did they leave out: That's about it.

The plot in a nutshell: PJ (Jordana Spiro) is your quintessential tomboy "all growed up." Surrounded by men during the day at her job as a Chicago Sun Times sportswriter and again at night with her group of friends - her hen-pecked brother Andy (the always awesome Jim Gaffigan), her old college roommate/radio DJ Brendan (Reid Scott), ladies man Mike (Jamie Kaler) and the shy but connected Kenny (Michael Bunin) - her only female outlet is Stephanie (Kellee Stewart), who's always pulling her away from the boys' club. Said tug-of-war comes to a head when she meets Bobby (Kyle Howard), a fellow sportswriter who becomes part of "the group" after Mike invites him to play for their softball team. After failing to ignite any sparks with her usual tricks, she caves and tries it Stephanie's way, the result of which - you guessed it - makes things even more awkward. Will she be able to figure out her relationship with Bobby and provide the audience with a cliche-filled sports metaphor via voice over? The answer - as if I have to tell you.

What works: For what it's worth, the cast is pretty likeable and the show has a few genuinely amusing moments but...

What doesn't: ...it's just another in long line of forgettable "Sex and the City" knock offs. (And why shouldn't it be? It airs after "Sex and the City" repeats.) Everything here just feels said and done before, especially its principal "a single girl that's just one of the guys" angle. That, added with its "Only in TV and Movies" understanding of sportswriting and its endless Chicago shout outs (is it too much to ask to have a show set in Chicago that doesn't spend all its time pointing out it's set in Chicago? This doesn't happen in shows set in L.A. and New York.), puts quite a few eye-rolling layers on what could be a fun show. It's biggest flaw however is its painfully ham-fisted narration by PJ, which uses third-grade sports metaphors to describe her dating foibles. They eat away at what little credibility her character is given as a sportswriter, not to mention as an actual human being. Things thankfully get toned down a little in the show's second episode (which follows the premiere on Tuesday) as a few genuine laughs get through the thicket (PJ on her hatred of Bobby's newest flame: "She's one of those girls with really small wrists.") All in all, it's exactly what you expect. And while one can't help but root for a scripted comedy on cable (or at least scripted comedy fans like myself), this isn't the easiest team to cheer for. And if you thought that sports metaphor was painful, just watch the show.

The challenges ahead: Will "My Boys" (and fellow newcomer "10 Items or Less," which unfortunately wasn't available for review) give TBS a foothold in the scripted TV business?

  [november 2006]  


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