9:31am PT by Daniel Fienberg
Take Me to the Pilots '17: CBS' 'Young Sheldon'
[I'll remind you at the top of every single one of these: These entries are not reviews. They're gut reactions to not-for-air pilots that could change in big and small ways between now and September or October or midseason. Full reviews will come then. They'll be longer. And more carefully considered. The opinions may even change. Who knows?]
Show: Young Sheldon (CBS)
The Pitch: "Better Call Sheldon"
Quick Response: Given what we know about Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory — he went to college at 11, is dismissive of his Texas upbringing, is distant from his family and had to learn a top-to-bottom assortment of social niceties from Leonard, Penny and Amy — this strangely conceived prequel is going to take a dark turn at some point, whereas the pilot is just CBS' quality neutral attempt to do one of ABC's heartwarming-and-funny single-cams about hard-working parents with three kids and a period setting. There are no laughs in the Jon Favreau-directed pilot, but it's helpful to remember how awful Big Bang Theory was in its initial episodes, and this is better than that. Iain Armitage does a reasonable approximation of a Jim Parsons impression, and Zoe Perry's approximation of real-life mother Laurie Metcalf is darned near uncanny. They're both good enough that there's no reason for the show to rely as heavily on Parsons' add-nothing voiceover as it does. Under what circumstances is a Big Bang Theory fan going to believe that our current Sheldon Cooper is the sort of guy who likes to pause and wax nostalgic about his childhood? Outside of the Cooper family, the pilot introduces no new characters who are even slightly funny or memorable, but I guess it only has moderate contempt for its less brilliant characters, so that's a plus. It also has no real sense of time (1989) or place (East Texas), and most of ABC's comedies in this genre have started with one or the other. One thing that struck me as I watched is that although Sheldon's arc is never going to be interesting, his sister Missy (a likable Raegan Revord) actually could have a fresh journey. What's it like being part of an unremarkable family in which you'd probably be hailed as surprisingly smart and perceptive if you didn't happen to have a twin brother who's a mega prodigy? Don't ditch Sheldon, but make Missy into a real foil and maybe this is a show?
Desire to Watch Again: Moderate. I watch nearly all of the ABC comedies this is hoping to be and I've watched every episode of The Big Bang Theory, so I'll probably be patient and curious to see if Young Sheldon realizes Sheldon isn't the best character to build a prequel around.