TV COMEDIES “YOUNG SHELDON” AND “ME, MYSELF & I” ON CBS
A TV Review by Tim Riley The long-running TV sitcom “The Big Bang Theory,” starring Jim Parsons as Caltech physicist Sheldon Cooper, has now spawned a new prequel series that focuses on the socially awkward scientist in his formative high school period in “Young Sheldon.”Appropriately, the voice of Jim Parsons narrates the story of his 9-year-old self, a child prodigy living in East Texas with a normal family somewhat discomfited by his disturbingly precocious nature.
The year is 1989 and young Sheldon (Iain Armitage) is so advanced in his intellect, with an IQ that is off the charts, that he enrolls in the same high school in which his football-playing older brother Georgie (Montana Jordan) is enrolled. Even more problematic is the fact that Sheldon’s father George Sr. (Lance Barber) is the high school’s football coach. Balancing things out is Sheldon’s twin sister Missy (Raegan Revord), who may not share his awesome brain power but does have a practical worldview.
It’s up to the mother, Zoe Perry’s Mary who leans on faith and love, to help Sheldon navigate the challenge of being the youngest kid at school, letting him know that a good defense to bullies is a reminder that family ties to the sport of football negates his nerdy qualities. We are supposed to find a pint-sized version of the older Sheldon, long familiar to a lot of viewers, a reassuring comic presence for his condescension. A similar quality in a kid just makes him seem more like an obnoxious brat.
Young Sheldon knows he’s smarter than everyone else, especially some of his teachers, and that can be annoying. What’s worse is how he alienates schoolmates because his obsession with the student handbook on rules of conduct leads him to rat them out on violations. “Young Sheldon” likely will have its greatest appeal to devoted fans of “The Big Bang Theory,” who may wish to explore and contemplate the seminal details of Sheldon’s childhood that may not have been previously addressed.
The casting of Iain Armitage as the young Sheldon is a brilliant stroke, given that the diminutive actor has a striking resemblance in appearance, mannerisms and style to the familiar Jim Parsons version. Another plus to this series is that while the other men in the Cooper family may not be that interesting, twin sister Missy looks to be more fascinating because she’s smart enough in her own right to confront her brother’s pomposity.
“Young Sheldon” doesn’t seem all that funny, but the best line comes from the titular character when he tells his mom outside a Radio Shack store that what he finds “comforting in a world filled with uncertainty, this place will here forever.” Another CBS network stab at a series comedy comes in the form of the uniquely structured “Me, Myself & I,” in which each episode is similar to a time travel through the life of the main character, from the age of 14 to senior citizen in the future.
As a teenage boy in 1991, Alex Riley (Jack Dylan Grazer), a devoted follower of the Chicago Bulls obsessed with Michael Jordan, is uprooted from the Midwest by his single mom who is now going to marry an airline pilot and relocate to Los Angeles. Jump to the present day, Alex (now Bobby Moynihan), a floundering inventor, is now 40 years old, and his world goes into a tailspin when he finds his wife cheating on him and his marriage falls apart. He ends up living in a friend’s garage and spending time with his young daughter.
The future arrives in 2042 when the 65-year old Alex (John Larroquette) has established a successful business empire and yet a minor heart attack causes him to rethink his priorities, leading to a retirement that allows him to reconnect with his childhood crush.The timing and pace of this show is so fluid that the action moves back and forth across the three time intervals at dizzy pace.
One moment Alex is prodded by his new stepbrother Justin (Christopher Paul Richards) to ask a girl for a dance, and then later he meets her in the future at a diner. The girl becomes pivotal because the young Nori (Reylynn Caster) is the teenage dream, and then a half-century later she’s now going by Eleanor (Sharon Lawrence) and connects with Alex at a chance meeting that involves an anecdote about a piece of mint candy. Oddly enough, the 14-year old Alex looks nothing like the Bobby Moynihan adult version, while the middle-aged Alex looks nothing like John Larroquette. But then, Sharon Lawrence is so much younger than Larroquette that the idea they were classmates in high school is ludicrous.
Logic is not something that really applies to TV comedies, and why should it start here with “Me, Myself & I” you may ask. We just have to look past the incongruity of mismatched identities.The sum of three parts is often distracting and a jumbled mess, and this show seems to offer little hope that beyond its pleasant nature lurks a comedy that will be sustainable for laughs that are not contrived.