Friends, I’m so sorry. I was supposed to get this review to you last Friday, but stupid Gregg Doyle and his stupid take on stupid celebrations got in my way and prevented me to from recapping the latest episode of ABC’s new sitcom, Back In the Game, about a single mother who moves back in with her ex-ballplayer dad, and tries to coach her son’s Little League team. Thanks to Carson for taking a break from his usually autocratic, by the numbers leadership style, and letting me post this today
Now, times are tough for the little sitcom that could. Nielson says it earned a 2.2 rating for its series premiere, which was better than what ABC finished the year with in 2012-2013, but also their lowest sitcom debut since 2009. Last week, that number dropped by 14 percent, so it’s probably a matter of time before this is replaced by re-runs of Modern Family.
In the interim, let’s enjoy the time we have together.
This week, the Angles are afraid of the ball and having trouble staying in the batter’s box, while Maggie Lawson’s Terry struggles to find work so that she can move out of The Cannon’s crowded house, which would deprive the show of half of its comedic premise. Boy, those are familiar problems we can all relate to, aren’t they? These seemingly separate problems are helpfully tied together by the episode’s title: “Stay in or bail out?” That’s just solid writing.
Here’s the episode:
While on her job hunt, Terry leaves the team’s instruction in the hands of James Caan’s “The Cannon,” who takes the kids on a field trip to the local penitentiary. There they learn to face their fears at the hands of the warden’s three best baseball players: The Blade, Silent Julio, and Senseless Paul. After some wacky misadventures, the team is no longer afraid of the ball, and Terry gets a job at a pizza place, owned by the misogynist league president, who we still hate.
Finally, the Gannon clan returns back to The Cannon’s house, where he opens up the master bedroom for his daughter and grandson, revealing a sparkling clean room he can’t bear to sleep in anymore since the death of Terry’s mom. We have warm fuzzies about this family and the show is over. Well, this episode is over, at least. But you never know with these ratings.
The Cannon’s baseball tips of the week:
“I got beaned in the head three times in my Major League career by big leaguers, right? So I got a couple of dents in my head. But I’m fine. I’m fine. I just can’t taste vanilla. No big deal.”
“When you bail out of the box, pretty soon you’re bailing out of the classroom. And then you start skipping school. And that’s where you hatch your plan to rob the liquor store. Then you get all hopped up with that money on goofballs and you wind up on a boat naked with an owl as a friend. And the owl is a solitary creature by nature, so that’s no friend. No friend at all. When you bail out on a pitch, you’re bailing out on your team. You’re bailing out on your dreams or something. Am I clear?
References to real baseball:
Terry: “Guys, look, there are moments in your life where you have to conquer your fears. That’s where we are now. Look, being afraid of being hit by the ball is normal. But even if it does hit you, it’ll only hurt for a second.” Hunter (last week identified as “the black one”): “Ray Chapman was killed by the Yankees pitcher Carl Mays.”
Rob Dibble guest stars as Senseless Paul, who gets angry at clouds and who allegedly can throw 92 MPH. One of those two traits is unrealistic.
Age inappropriate things 10 year olds do and say:
Fat kid (Dudley!) has a pizza delivered to the field.
The Mexican player (still don’t have a name on this kid) calls The Cannon “you gringo.”
Life Lessons learned through baseball:
“You’ve been through stuff a lot scarier than this. Think about it. You left Michigan, you left your house. You came to a new school. You took care of your mom. You get in there one time, one time, and I promise you you will never be afraid again.” – The Cannon
It’s gotten worse. This is a profoundly stupid show. The kids are no cuter than they were last week, when they were disgusting little buggers. And it would be a stretch to call any of their characters even one-dimensional (on the bright side, some of them have names now). James Caan’s mumbled line readings are often impossible to understand, and any line readings by characters who are not one of the four main characters are incredibly flat. Not that it would matter, because the writing is still horribly unfunny. The only real laugh in the episode was a physical gag as Caan throws a slushy out the window of his car at the league prez. Maggie Lawson remains as charming as ever, but she’s carrying a dumpster fire at this point.