'Me, Myself & I': TV Review

The three-tiered structure is more gimmick than asset.
9/25/2017

Despite an ambitious premise, CBS' new Bobby Moynihan and John Larroquette comedy ends up being three forgettable comedies in one.

CBS' new comedy Me, Myself & I has an atypical structure in which each episode features incidents from the life of the same man at 14 (Jack Dylan Grazer), 40 (Bobby Moynihan) and 65 (John Larroquette).

Acknowledging the effort it took to tell a story in these different ways, here are things that the three-part structure of Me, Myself & I made me ponder: It's one thing for a 14-year-old Jack Dylan Grazer to grow into Bobby Moynihan, but there's no way Bobby Moynihan could possibly grow into John Larroquette, unless the future includes body-stretching technology. And leaving aside whether or not the future includes body-stretching technology, why would you want to do a show set in 2042 if you have literally nothing to say about the future through that speculation? And leaving aside body-stretching technology and the lack of an interesting sci-fi angle, does the future include some sort of anti-aging technology given only to women, because there's no way I'm buying 69-year-old John Larroquette and 56-year-old Sharon Lawrence as characters who were the same age in 1991.

Here's the wisdom I felt like I gained from the intercutting structure of Me, Myself & I: Incidents that happen in your life help inform later portions of your life, which I think I already might have suspected.

The tiered narrative of Me, Myself & I offers a lot of distractions, but whatever ambitions it has, the execution fails to benefit the show in terms of comedy or heart and if it's not doing those things, what you're left with is a show with a very fine cast and an empty gimmick.

A pilot like this has to offer proof of concept. That's all it's there for. Unfortunately, creator Dan Kopelman doesn't provide enough evidence that there's a reason for the time-jumping and story-splitting.

In 1991, Young Alex is remembering his move from Chicago to Los Angeles and his introduction to new stepfather Ron (Brian Unger), new stepbrother Justin (Christopher Paul Richards) and an embarrassment involving his dream girl Nori (Reylynn Caster).

In 2017, middle-aged Alex is facing the demise of his marriage, the possibility of having his teenage daughter leave for another city and a creative drought as an inventor, which concerns his best buddy Darryl (Jaleel White).

In 2042, Alex has a heart attack.

The segments are unified by the idea that adversity breeds strength and the big picture tie-up that comes courtesy of the wise stepdad is just a play on that cliche or truism. Granted that cliches are sometimes over-repeated wisdom and that many people do, indeed, have lives unified by certain mantras that could come at any point. Here, it's just not enough to justify the structure.

The template is basically the generational lesson-learning of This Is Us meets the thematically linked storytelling of Life in Pieces. That means it's not an easy task Kopelman has set himself, but it's also not unprecedented, so it's not too much to ask for an emotional or comedic build to the three stories. Instead, only the first story feels like it would be capable of standing alone.

Grazer, currently seen doing strong work as Eddie Kaspbrak in It, is a good, smart-but-not-too-precocious every-kid lead in what is, like CBS' Young Sheldon, effectively a period-set ABC single-cam comedy about a newly blended family. Nobody would ever think there was enough meat on these bones to justify a full series on its own, but the mixture of coming-of-age and fish-out-of-water tropes is reassuringly familiar. In this part of the story, Unger is nicely understated, a quality he loses in the middle segment submerged in old-age makeup. [Seriously, writers. Old-age makeup technology is not where it should be on TV. Don't write yourself into a position where it's necessary.]

Moynihan, in his first series role since leaving Saturday Night Live, is OK in the present segment, which boils down to one long "Trying to come up with ideas" montage. Jaleel White, who showed in his Survivor's Remorse appearance last season that he's due for a renaissance, is totally wasted as the second or third banana in a storyline that's only a third of a show.

And, to repeat, I don't get what's happening in the future segment at all. It doesn't stand alone on even flimsy terms, makes little use of Larroquette, wastes charismatic Californication veteran Kelen Coleman and serves only as a hollow repetition of the episode's theme.

The issue with this structure, as regular Life in Pieces viewers — I know you're out there, somewhere — are aware, is that when the individual vignettes work, the show gets to be four or five really good shows at once, but when they fail, it's like watching four or five awful sitcoms at one. Based on the pilot, Me, Myself & I is three forgettable comedies adding up to a forgettable whole.

Cast: Bobby Moynihan, Jack Dylan Grazer, John Larroquette, Brian Unger, Jaleel White, Kelen Coleman, Sharon Lawrence
Creator: Dan Kopelman
Premieres: Monday, 9:30 p.m. ET/PT (CBS)

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