Review of "Back in the Game" on ABC From The TV MegaSite

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"Back in the Game" review by Suzanne
Airs Wednesdays at 8:30 on ABC

They did a good job with this show, and it made me laugh quite a lot. There are lots of extremely funny jokes in it. If you get offended easily or don't like "mean" humor or rude jokes, then you won't like it. It kind of reminds me of a live action Family Guy in some ways (it's got more character development and depth, but not a lot).

The premise of the story is that a single mom, recently divorced, has to move back in with her dad, despite the fact that she has a lot of issues with him about her dysfunctional childhood.  They both love baseball and failed at it professionally, so when he son Danny tries out and doesn't make it, she offers to coach the team so that he and other kids can play.  The actors do a great job, especially Maggie Lawson as Terry, the single mom, and James Caan as her dad, nicknamed "The Cannon". He clearly wanted a son and tried to raise her as one after her mom died.  The kid who plays Danny is also very good.  Just don't expect him to sound like a real kid because the jokes and attitude are far too advanced for someone his age. That's pretty much true of everyone on the show - don't expect realism.  Just expect to laugh... and maybe appalled as well.

I like to think that I don't get offended easily, but the show does cut a little close to home for me. My mom died when I was 10, and my alcoholic dad raised me. He didn't do a good job, so unlike Terry, I went into a foster home.  "The Cannon" likes to drink beer a little bit less than my dad, otherwise this show could be my life. Also, I had 3 older brothers, but they were all grown by then.  My dad also preferred my brothers over me, but he didn't teach me about baseball or anything else. However, he did take me to a lot of baseball or football games, so to this day I'm not too crazy about sports because they remind me a lot of him, and hanging out with a bunch of drunks at the stadium.

I do applaud the show for having characters that are more unlikable, like on "Married with Children", but they kind of copped out at the end and tried to make it looks like The Cannon does indeed care about his daughter (it was kind of too late and lame by then).  They should stick to their guns. People in "Seinfeld" were not very likable and that show was a huge hit and hilarious! It's still funny, even in re-runs.

Despite my own misgivings, and the fact that this father-daughter relationship is very abusive, the show did win me over with its jokes and the surprises in the story. I would say it's kind of like Family Guy Meets The Bad News Bears. In fact, the way the dad treats his daughter reminds me a lot of Peter and Meg. It's got a good time slot and star appeal, so it may do well in the ratings. I saw a review that said it was kind of pedestrian, but I heartily disagree. I think the humor here is much more biting and harsh than you will find on most family sitcoms in today's shows.  There was a lot of controversy this year about the new Seth McFarlane FOX sitcom "Dads" being too over-the-top, but I think this show does that type of humor much better.

Speaking of "Dads", why do so many of the new sitcoms have Terrible Dads?  Both of these shows, plus The Goldbergs' George Segal, all seem to have crazy terrible old dads ("Dads" has two). The characters in "Dads" actually had a verbal contest to see who had the worst dad (I think Terry in this show wins, but in real life, I do). They are like the anti-Cosby. Not that I'm complaining too much as long as it's funny!

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Page updated 9/26/13

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