Thursday, June 19, 2008

My Boys, "Dinner Party": Pants-free in the Love Zone

Spoilers for "My Boys" coming up just as soon as I tell a Charlie Rose lie...

If the season premiere was half-funny, half-obligatory, then "Dinner Party" is "My Boys" firing pretty much on all cylinders. PJ isn't necessarily funny by herself, but put her in a situation where she has to hold the leash for some of her boys -- notably Kenny and Mike here -- and Jordana Spiro can do something amusing with that. So last week's half-boys/half-PJ (with a sprinkling of Bobby) formula wasn't that great, while this week's half-Andy/half-PJ+boys worked quite nicely.

Andy's nanny situation started out cliched but kinda funny (notably with Bobby's Chris Farley-esque "Do you guys remember the time she was here?") and then became unexpected and very funny as he realized the downside of having an ultra-hot nanny. (It's no coincidence that the lamest part of that subplot, and of the whole episode, was the scene where Brendan and Bobby both show up at the house to drool over Elsa, as it's the part that plays most into the cliche.) Andy's desire to take off his pants, eat junk food and watch "Point Break" was a nice commentary on the priorities of a happily-married guy in his late '30s, and well-played by Jim Gaffigan. (His monologue about the two women being "the perfect level of attractive" was particularly nice.)

But for once, an Andy story wasn't the highlight of a "My Boys" episode. I really got a kick out of the whole situation with Mike and Kenny and the two musicians, whether it was PJ shutting them up with the self-tanner/pillowcase-underpants warning (as I said in last week's column, funny shorthand for how much dirt she has on them both), Mike complaining that "my girl's broken," or Kenny inexplicably turning out to be the evening's real drawing card. (In fairness, his only real competition was Mike, but under normal circumstances, I can see how the two would be equally girl-repelling -- just as, under the right circumstances, either one could suddenly seem strangely appealing.)

What did everybody else think?


Karen said...

I thought Spiro needed to do more with her expression when she saw Bobby walk in with Elsa. This is right after she failed to arrange an Italian booty call with the guy; I would have liked to have seen some levels of emotion playing across her face, the subtler the better. But she was just blank.

I watched the pilot of this show last year, and I found the voiceovers to be a dealbreaker and I wasn't 100% convinced of the reality of P.J.'s relationship with these guys. Honestly, women who look like her are NEVER treated like one of the guys unless she's got some kind of major disqualifying issues. And Spiro never convinced me that she did; there needed to be some depth to her performance and I just didn't see it. So I stopped.

But I saw your paean to the show, and you mentioned they'd junked the voiceovers, so I gave it a try. I actually kinda liked last week's, and this week's made me laugh out loud in many places, but Spiro still isn't doing it for me.

So, I'm out.

Anonymous said...

I love this show so much, but someting has felt off about both weeks. Obviously last week it was an issue of the group being split up the way they were. It made for some funny moments, but I prefer that everyone just be in Chicago together and work from there. This week I have no idea what my issue was. It was funny and thinking about particular lines from it this morning I think I find them funnier now, but something felt wrong.

I did very much enjoy Andy and Kenny, though. Kenny as the ladies man who is just as confused by the new status as everything else was well played (I'm kind of crushing on Mike Bunin) and Andy/Jim can pretty much do no wrong in my eyes.

One thing I actually disagree with in the above post from karen: I thought PJ's reaction to Bobby showing up with Hot Swedish Nanny was great. She was tired. She'd already come back from Italy and realized that it was time to regroup and Bobby wasn't going to work. It was just a whim that turned out to be a bad idea. I never really got the idea that she had any deep feelings for him that couldn't be wiped away by hitting the reset button in the first place. Once he rolled into Crowley's, I think she was just so done with everything that had happened in the night that there was absolutely nothing at all surprising about Bobby/Nanny walking into that bar together.

Amy said...

This week was closer to what I want this show to be than it has been in a long time (going back into last season).

I love the group breaking up into random formations. For two reasons. One, it's hard to give good lines to six or seven people in one scene. And two, aside from a regular poker night its hard to imagine that many adults in their 30s -not 20s - would really have enough free time to hang out EVERY single night. (and not be huge losers).

I watched last night's episode with my boyfriend who only sometimes watches the show and we laughed outloud quite a few times. At minimum of once every scene.

I also wanted to note they have stepped up the wardrobe department this year. I coveted both PJ and Stephanie's outfits at the party and my boyfriend loved Andy's suits. They've done a great job showing Andy's elevated status through his wardrobe.

Overall, the show is improving and I am hoping episode three will step it up again.

Anonymous said...

Mike and Kenny are hysterical together.

"Do you guys remember the time she was here?"

Didn't one of them use that line after meeting Dani?

I laughed out loud when Mike was told the news about his basketball league. That's typical Mike to be oblivious to anything that is not a female around him.

Anonymous said...

>>I love the group breaking up into random formations. For two reasons.<<

To follow up on that, my complaint about splitting them up isn't a request that they all be in the bar together at all times. I actually totally agree with the above. I like that they mix it up (and I always find it fun when Andy is somewhere without PJ because his interaction with the guys and Steph is just as funny without any "I'm here because of my sister" distractions), I just prefer that they not be split up geographically because I like all the possibilities to be open.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of the mixed-up groupings: One thing I've always enjoyed is how Steph just can't stand Kenny. But they never give a reason for it. It cracks me up, because Kenny is even more harmless than Andy.

That only moment that felt completely off to me was the repeated use of "FHB", that turned out just to mean "guests eat first". (In contrast, last season when Andy decided he was going to "sandwich after I sofa," sums up what I enjoy about this show.)

Anonymous said...

Looking for summer fare, I decided to give this show a try figuring that any show worth its own blog entry should be given a chance. So I watched the two episodes of this season.

Sorry, but this show is one of the worst I can remember ever seeing. None of it works. The actors are all incredibly wooden and, instead of acting in any believable manner, seem to be preoccupied just waiting to say their lines. You can almost feel them concentrating on their lines alone and not actually contributing to the scene in any other manner. It's like they are all in separate scenes. Add on top of that their goofy, over-acting face-pulling after each line delivery and it is unbearable to watch.

The dialog is terrible. Every sentence screams "Sitcom Snarky!", and contributes to the feeling that all these "close friends" are actors pretending to be close friends. There is no natural chemistry, and the annoying way they speak to each other magnifies this. The only convincing feeling you get from them is DISDAIN. So why are they best friends, other than the plot requires them to be.

Yes, I get it - it IS a sitcom. But even sitcoms have to have some grounding in reality to be accepted. And IF you are going the all-out snarky mode, it better be funny. All the jokes and dialog are tired, predictable, and without even a touch of originality. For once I MISS the laugh-track, if only to cover up the lay-there-like-a-turd scenes and the actors' "winking" to the camera surrounded by complete silence.

I really can't think of a worse show on TV than this. All of it is AWFUL. It reeks of the desperation and self-absorption of community theater, with exactly the same self-congratulatory acting and writing from unskilled hacks. I thought Alan's "Chuck" fascination was the worst, but this is a whole other level of garbage. TBS must be suicidal-desperate to be giving this trash a second season.

Anonymous said...

One last thing - having the main girl's best friend be a spicy-attitude Black girl is complete self-parody. It just demonstrates how many "fresh" ideas this stinker will steal from the only-in-Hollywood cliche archive to pass off as "originality". On par with the female sportswriter (how ATYPICAL CAN YOU GET!!!), the buddies who "couldn't be more different but are soulmates!!!!", etc, etc.

Anonymous said...

I am just getting into this show.
Season one came out on DVD last week, and I netflixed it and got all caught up and started watching this season.

It's not art, to be sure, but I like My Boys as if it were a comfortable pair of jeans. It's just kind of cosy and friendly and I like spending a little time with the characters.

This past episode, I really enjoyed Kenny getting his dating mojo. I think he and Gaffigan are the gems of the cast.

Anonymous said...

Really funny episode, this one. I particularly appreciated the hot Swedish nanny-part since A)I'm a man and B)I'm Swedish. It was very impressive how they had gotten a real Swedish actress for the role with a real Swedish name and even incorporated real Swedish into the dialog at the end, although the pronunciation was anything but perfect...:P It made me laugh big time and really surprised me, in a good way. If anyone wonders what Andy said when he was talking Swedish here it is: "Hello Elsa, nice to see you. But look at the time". Interesting, anyone?