First Watch: Back in the Game – “Pilot” (Season 1, Episode 1)

As Terry (Maggie Lawson) reaches down for a baseball, she mutters to herself “you promised yourself you’d never let baseball enter your life again.” ABC has respected her wishes, canceling her homecoming to the sport.

David E. Kelley, a veteran producer, had two shows premiering this season: The Crazy Ones and Back in the Game. The former has some major potential — it stars Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Gellar. Unfortunately, the latter relied on a few new faces (including child actors), and could not rely on its star power. But a rookie cast isn’t reason enough to end a series. What is reason enough to end Back in the Game?

For starters, outside of Terry and her son, the characters are offensive. The Cannon (James Caan), Terry’s father, is crude, repulsive, inconsiderate, insensitive, and all around unlikable. Initially, The Cannon’s affection to his grandson is his only redeeming characteristic. Oh, and he feeds the raccoon stuck in his wall. Lelu, Terry’s new best friend, is a wealthy, recently divorced, shallow caricature of a woman. She’s also less than intelligent; not a very feminist character. Dick Slingbaugh, a chauvinistic coach, is the only other man in Terry’s life: so it’s no wonder she wants to stay single. Dick (an apt name) makes men everywhere look bad: he’s an immature stereotype who can make me cringe with every sexist word he lets loose from his mouth. And then we have the team. Children are often adorable and, sometimes, well-written — these kids are not. Like the rest of the cast, the team is made up of younger clichés. They even have a flamboyant youth. With characters like these, I wouldn’t want the show to succeed.

There is one redeeming quality: despite the characters being old, tired, and largely unlikeable, the writing sure is bold. Danny (Griffin Gluck), Terry’s son, is constantly portrayed as a mature and intelligent person, not the poor excuse for children’s writing we’ve become accustomed to. He even kissed a bully to frighten him away, a move I’d never seen at an age so young. And he’s funny, to boot.

We here at Tonight’s Watch know that one character cannot save a series, nor should it. In this case, the show stoppage was just. You can catch the first couple of episodes on Hulu, if you don’t want to take my word for it — but you have been warned.

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One response to “First Watch: Back in the Game – “Pilot” (Season 1, Episode 1)

  • Daniel

    It is a shame this show isn’t very good, I am a big fan of David E. Kelley’s Boston Legal and Maggie Lawson in (one of my favorite comedies) Psych. I can’t say I am surprised by the fact that it isn’t good, but it still makes me very sad.

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