Tuesday, September 11, 2007

My Boys: Where's Abe Froman when you need him?

Spoilers for the "My Boys" season finale coming up just as soon as I drive my Ferrari backwards...

TV Promotion 101: If you promise viewers that they won't want to miss the last two minutes of a show, you're supposed to give them something that will make them say, "Boy, I'm glad I didn't miss that!" In other words, you don't run those ads and then pair it with a final scene that leaves the identity of PJ's Italian date a complete mystery. I blame the TBS promo department far more than the "My Boys" producers (showrunners have little to no control over what kind of ads their network runs), but that was still badly handled.

TBS has ordered a third season, so we should find out the mystery man's identity next summer. I just sure as hell hope it's not the ballplayer. Talk about still not getting it. The problem with PJ dating an athlete isn't the ethical conundrum it creates; it's the perception it creates that she's not a serious reporter, but just some chick who got into sportswriting so she could bag herself a rich jock husband. That's always the problem with this scenario, and even after Jay Tarses explained it to her last time -- and for the independent-minded heroine of the show, PJ needs her own life explained to her an awful lot by guys, doesn't she? -- she somehow thinks everything is cool now that Dudemeister has been traded to the Brewers? Doesn't work that way. Not only do I not want to see these two dating when season three begins, but I really hope we avoid her career altogether, as those scenes rarely add anything but an excuse to do the godawful narration (which I also hope vanishes).

All that said, the rest of the two-episode finale had lots of what I like about this show. These last few episodes haven't had anything nearly as funny as the douchebag intervention (that scene may be the "My Boys" equivalent of "Let's Go To the Mall (Today)," a comedy high water mark that's going to be hard to live up to week to week), but as I've said in the past, it's just fun to spend time with these guys, whether they're taking hard pitches at the batting cage or attempting to one-up Ferris Bueller with a day off trip to the finest landmarks Chicago has to offer. (I especially liked Andy's continued "see anything good today?" calls to the Cameron-esque Brendan). Since the show is determined to turn "hang" into a noun, I'll go along and say that PJ and her pals are a good hang.

A few other brief notes, as I won't be writing about the show again for a while:
  • The actor who plays Kenny does a good Silvio Dante impression, so does that mean he can also do Pacino in "Godfather III"? (Also, "Capitano di Crunch"? Hah!)
  • Boy, that Andy is a lucky guy to have a friend he apparently never sees who can get him a corporate law job that will pay for a Chicago home with a yard and space for two kids, with enough left over for private school. Clearly, I have the wrong friends -- or the wrong career.
  • Am I the only person who has a hard time distinguishing between Michael Landes, who played Evan the botanist (and was the first Jimmy Olsen on "Lois & Clark"), and Jay Harrington? I actually assumed it was Harrington when Evan was introduced last week and couldn't figure out why the credit wasn't on his IMDb page.
  • Given that Jeremy Sisto is now representing the people in one of two separate yet equally important groups, I'm guessing Thorn is out of the running for mystery date, unless the show comes back next season with PJ explaining how the Italy trip was a disaster and she never intends to see that guy again. (Then again, that'd also be an easy way to get rid of Dudemeister.)
What did everybody else think?


Heather K said...

I feel that we have learned from season two, that just because they set something up as a really big deal at the end of one season does not mean they are even going to deal with it in the next (the PJ Brendan kiss, set up to true "lurve").

Please don't let her date the ballplayer.

Anonymous said...

Was that actor even the same guy who played the ballplayer earlier in the season? It didn't seem like it. I think it's going to be one of the "boys" on the plane.

Toby O'B said...

Thorne has the resources to surprise her by showing up in Italy, which could be awkward for all concerned but comic for us.

But then again, Sisto is committed to L&O now, so he might not be able to do it.....

Was there any other major suitor from last season (or what I've been seeing described as "the first part of the first season") who might have the means to upgrade their tickets to first class? I don't see any of the current batch - except Bobby - having the serious scratch to manage that.

I bet at some point in the next season we find out that Andy is now working for a law firm under the umbrella control of Bobby's family......

Anonymous said...

FYI: Michael Bunin, the guy who plays Kenny, made a memorable appearance in "Friends" as the second of Professor Gellar's male students to attempt to get permission to retake a test by claiming to have been distracted because of being "in love" with Gellar. Bunin was a riot.

Anonymous said...

The batting cage scene made the show for me. I know there was annoying narration going on, but I didn't really hear it because I was laughing too hard.

I agree with Alan that they need to get rid of plots involving PJ's profession. It's too frustrating to tolerate anymore.

Alan Sepinwall said...

(or what I've been seeing described as "the first part of the first season")

This is why I hate "seasons" for cable series. "Monk" will air eight episodes, then go off the air for six months, and then the next batch of eight are called part of the same "season."

Back when I wrote the column about the "Douchebag in the City" episode, I asked a few TBS publicists whether these episodes were considered part of season one or season two. I was told this was the second season. The stories in the trades today would seem to contradict that, but I don't much care.

Kensington said...

I haven't seen "My Boys", but I just had to join in to say that "Let's Go To The Mall (Today)" remains brilliant, one of my favorite moments from the entire last television season. I really think it's the moment when How I Met Your Mother established itself as a first rate, unmissable program.

nell said...

as its the end of the season (though, surprisingly, not the end of my boys forever), i'll take this opportunity to ruminate on some overarching themes, which for the most part annoy me.

Most of these annoyances revolve around the "PJ as reporter" paradigm the show is so caught up with. This frame allows easy parallels for those still comparing the show to sex in the city (i was thinking this before that awful awful episode). The show portrays the job of reporter as merely talking to players after the game. We never see PJ in any act of reporting that actually involves intelligence, talent, or competence as a journalist-like writing, asking poignant questions, researching, etc. This is also the sole reason the show can get away with its mediocre sports analogies and less than insightful narrations (a travesty in itself). And my final problem with this is that it essentializes PJ's character into a sports-loving tomboy.

Now granted, this portrayal is better than the grand majority of women characters on television. But it would be great to see more nuance-a woman who has some sort of gender-neutral job, yet has close relationships with men that perhaps involve, but are not based solely upon sports fandom. but that would just be more satisfying for me personally, so perhaps that shouldn't enter the equation.

now...on to last nights show(s). my take on the mystery man is that (all these assume some sort of continuity in the next season)
a) if it's thorn the show is dead (the character's been built up as so perfect, a week in italy clearly solidifies the relationship, leaving PJ un-single, and therefore the main story lines of the show die...or, they try it, it falls apart, and they've totally contradicted everything they've built up about him).
b)she chooses the pitcher, the show dies-to me. this just allows the show to delve further into awful narration and fixation on baseball, which is the least interesting aspect of the show.
c)she chooses evan (which in my opinion wouldn't be a bad choice-he is clearly the most attractive man of the 7), the show is forced to re-play last season's write off of "what happened in the final episode" (because, as discussed before, we can't have PJ in a relationship)-which is just lame.
d)she chooses one of the boys-doesn't matter which one-and, even worse, PJ is in a relationship with whichever one it is, and the show dies for aforementioned reasons.

which brings me to my final annoyance. so much time and energy spent on meeting guys. granted this season was framed by the need to find a companion for the italy trip, but i just don't envision a workable plot where pj is happily in a relationship with a guy the boys like, and they all play poker together, and watch cubs games, and ponder that amazing polluck at the art institute (would have been a better choice than the Caillebotte), and skip off toward the lakefill into the sunrise. sounds like a great life, but its a boring tv show. so i guess the alternative is PJ being happily single. or at least very much downplaying the relationship aspects, so we don't have to keep watching this charade of the revolving door of gentlemen.

ok, i've gone on far too long. i'm just highly disappointed in what i envision to be the future of the show. but maybe (hopefully) the writers will step up and impress me.

RandomRanter said...

I enjoyed the show, but yeah, felt the end was a bit cheap just because there would have been plenty to talk about if we knew who it was, and yet instead they annoy me by making me assume bad things all summer.
And honestly, it's not just that PJ doesn't get the dating the player thing - why does no one get it? Not the player, not her fellow sportswriter, her lawyer brother, anyone?

Kristen said...

I thought the final two episodes were hilarious, and I took the promo about not missing the last two minutes to mean 'don't miss Andy's song', which was the climax of the ep for me. (I missed the blatant Ferris Bueller's comment the first time, so the repeated similarities were much more subtle and hilarious when I watched it.) My husband doubled over laughing at the batting cage scene.

I'm not fond of the ballplayer (the actor is a dud) but I think having PJ date someone next year is a realistic plotline. The last episode had most of them going through some big changes, and they all spoke some hard truths to PJ in the bar. It would work, plot-wise, for her to try to change too and attempt a serious relationship. Given the jokes, awkwardness and later insights that resulted in Evan joining the poker game, I'm guessing the writers could harvest lots of material (humorous and plot-related) from a serious boyfriend.

My favorite part about this show is that it does a great job of sprinkling small Chicago references and in-jokes throughout. Sure, the outdoor scenes don't look like Chicago most of the time (YAY for going there for the field trip, though) but in the dialogue, they really get it. The whole bit about none of the city dwellers only knowing how to get to Hoffman Estates from either PJ's or the airport ("suburb-to-suburb, that's madness") was spot-on, as was Bobby never having been to the Oak Street Beach, and Andy's midlife Midwestern-suburban crisis involving buying a boat in the middle of Montrose Harbor. Maybe you have to live here to really see all the detail they get, but believe me, they *get* it. Most shows only reference Wrigley and consider that enough. My Boys does it better.

Jefferson Burns said...

okay. screw it all. I hoping the person on the plane is Trouty. who's with me?

nell said...

ooh, trouty! i hadn't considered that. it may be my only hope.

and i too love the chicago references, but since when is Midway in the "suburbs"?

really all i want is some polish surnames.

Kristen said...

When we lived in Lakeview, there was always the default thinking that Midway was really far away, almost in the suburbs, whereas O'Hare was more of the city airport. I don't know why the distinction was made -- maybe because you had to drive 55 to get to it? Even though both had El access, Midway was the one you assumed to had to drive to, but you could take a cab back or the El from O'Hare and it wasn't that bad a commute.

People on the north side have such a skewed view of the city. That's what I loved about the joke, that it was *that* spot-on.

RandomRanter said...

While I do not wish for a PJ/Trouty pairing - that would be awesome if he was on the plane!

Anonymous said...

About the below statement:
That is not right. It was Kyle Howard who plays Bobby on My Boys that was a guest on friends.

FYI: Michael Bunin, the guy who plays Kenny, made a memorable appearance in "Friends" as the second of Professor Gellar's male students to attempt to get permission to retake a test by claiming to have been distracted because of being "in love" with Gellar. Bunin was a riot.

10:45 AM, September 11, 2007