Judge Erich Asperschlager is the proud owner of a brand-new wheelhouse.
"I've come to realize that almost everything in dating and relationships
has a parallel to sports, especially baseball. Though that's probably because
that's what I do: I'm a sportswriter for the Chicago Sun-Times. I cover
In 2004, TBS rebranded itself with the tagline "Very Funny." To
prove it, they turned prime time over to blocks of popular sitcoms, and
Hollywood comedies. In recent years, the network has started supplementing the
Friends and Everybody Loves Raymond reruns with a steadily
growing slate of original programming. Not all of it is good. In fact, a lot of
it's awful (for evidence, see recent reviews of House of Payne: Volume
One and The Bill Engvall Show:
Complete First Season). But somewhere among the basic cable crap, TBS got it
right—with a genuinely fun, funny, and touching show about city-dwelling
friends I'd actually want to hang out with.
The beers 'n' baseball comedy My Boys kicked off TBS's move into
scripted comedy way back in November of 2006. The erratic first year's seven
month, mid-season break meant fans had to wait until July for the last nine
episodes. Those same fans have had to wait nearly a year for the release of
My Boys: The Complete First Season on DVD, followed two days later by the
June 12th season two premiere. Was it worth the wait?
Facts of the Case
The four most important things to Chicago Cubs
sportswriter P.J. Franklin (Jordana Spiro, Must Love Dogs) are, in no particular
order: baseball, beer, poker, and her friends—a group which includes
girly-girlfriend Stephanie (Kellee Stewart, Crazylove) on one side, and
her "boys" (five grown men in various stages of arrested development)
on the other. There's P.J.'s sometime-roommate Brendan (Reid Scott, American
Dreams); Mike (Jamie Kaler, Arrested Deevelopment), the red-headed
alpha male; shy, lovable schlub Kenny (series creator Betsy Thomas's real-life
pal Michael Bunin, Scrubs); fellow Cubs reporter Bobby (Kyle Howard,
Related); and Andy (Jim Gaffigan, That '70s Show), her (un)happily
married older brother. In between Thursday night poker games and
every-other-night drinks down at the local bar, P.J., Steph, and the boys deal
with everything that comes with striking out at love in a city that hasn't won
the World Series in more than a century (no, I'm not counting the White
When Betsy Thomas came up with the idea for My
Boys, she envisioned it as an "anti-Sex and the
City"—something that would represent women who care more about
hanging out, playing poker, drinking beer, and talking sports, than shopping for
designer shoes and sipping fruity cocktails. In the process, she created a
serial comedy that speaks to both women and men (women and men who watch TBS,
Like the show it's trying hard not to be, My Boys is narrated by its
female lead. But unlike its fluffy pink predecessor, P.J. tells her story in
baseball terms. Thomas is a huge baseball fan, and makes no apologies for
wrapping the series around her beloved Cubs.
Joy of baseball aside, the reason My Boys
works while so many other "group of friends living and loving in a major
city" TV shows don't, is the exceptional cast chemistry. Everyone feels
right. Everyone feels real. It's like they cast a group of actual friends who
just happen to all be talented comic actors to star in a televised retelling of
their real lives. Anyone who's ever had close friends will recognize the gentle
and not-so-gentle ribbing, jealousies, rivalries, and victories in My
In an ensemble show there are always stand out performances. In My
Boys, the honors go to Jordana Spiro and Jim Gaffigan. P.J.'s struggle to
balance the love life she wants with the "beer and poker" lifestyle
she loves is at the heart of the show's story. Spiro effortlessly moves between
being "one of the guys" and being a beautiful, compelling, vulnerable
female lead anyone can relate to, no matter which side of the couch you're
Spiro will likely be new to most viewers. Stand up comic Gaffigan, on the
other hand—thanks to countless TV and movie bit parts and guest
appearances—is probably the show's most recognizable face. He gets off
some of the best one-liners as married guy Andy, who (when he's not busy
avoiding his wife's phone calls) tries to prove he still has what it takes to
hang with the party-hearty singles and avoid ending up in "suburban
And even though he's not a regular, Johnny Galecki (who played David on
Roseanne and is now one of the leads on CBS's The Big Bang Theory)
deserves special mention for his hilarious turn as the show's requisite
"wacky neighbor": the overly generous, slang-spewing, completely
annoying, hanger-on "Trouty." He only appears in three episodes (with
at least that many explanations as to how he got his nickname), but I dug him so
much I could have sworn he was in more. I'll keep watching the show even if they
don't bring him back in season two, but if they don't…well, let's just say
I hope we never have to find out what would happen.
My Boys: The Complete First Season gets a
nice-looking widescreen presentation to complement the single-camera filmed
style. The 5.1 surround audio, though, doesn't do much to justify an upgrade
from stereo. The set's three discs (split into two slim cases) are packaged in a
cardboard slip case. Pretty standard stuff.
Seventh Inning Stretch
Sony's half-hearted attempt at bonus
features is like a pop fly out: a decent, if unimpressive, effort. There's a
making-of featurette, a series of "Sports Quiz" questions posed to the
cast, a promotional piece called "P.J.'s Rules for Sports and Dating,"
and a blooper reel. The two short deleted scenes, however, are hardly worth the
effort it apparently didn't take to add them to disc two. Speaking of which, why
are they on disc two when the other extras are on disc three? Could it be
because Sony decided to include two "minisodes"—highly
compressed web-produced versions of old TV shows—neither of which have
anything to do with My Boys, unless there's some connection between My
Boys and Mr. T's guest appearances on Silver Spoons and Diff'rent
Strokes I don't know about?
The Rebuttal Witnesses
As wide-reaching My Boys is in cross-gender
appeal, it's not going to be for everyone. Betsy Thomas made the show to appeal
to people like her, which suggests that it's probably not for people who aren't.
And while you don't have to be a sports expert to enjoy the show, people who
loathe sports, sports analogies, and sports bars might want to steer clear or
check it out on TV first.
Thanks to clever writing and one of the best ensemble
casts on current television, My Boys is not only a great show to get you
through the summer, it's half an hour you and your significant other won't have
to fight for control of the TV. If you missed out on this team's rookie season,
don't worry. Now is the perfect time to get caught up, though you're going to
have to rely on good old-fashioned hustle and your DVR if you want to catch up
before season two begins on June 12th.
My Boys: The Complete First Season gets the game ball and a pat on the
back. Sony, on the other hand, needs to take a lap and think about taking less
than nine months to release the next DVD set.
Give us your feedback!
Did we give My Boys: The Complete First Season a fair trial? yes / no
What's "fair"? Whether positive or negative, our reviews should be unbiased, informative, and critique the material on its own merits.
Scales of Justice
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 488 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Romantic Comedies
• "Life in the Press Box"
• "Sports Quiz"
• "P.J.'s Rules for Sports and Dating"
• "No Crying in Baseball: Bloopers"
• "Riding the Pine: Deleted Scenes"