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My Boys: The Complete First Season
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
DVD Released: 6/10/2008
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 6/12/2008
If you've watched or read any entertainment news report in the past year, you've no doubt seen stories concerning the decline in ratings for the four main television networks. Because of this, the nets are cutting back on the more expensive scripted shows and opting for more reality programming. How ironic that cable networks, which used to rely on old movies and syndicated programs, are now making their own shows. HBO, Showtime, and even AMC have had success with sitcoms and dramas. TBS has entered the fray with some original programs, including the comedy My Boys, which has come to DVD with My Boys: The Complete First Season.
My Boys focuses on the life of P.J. Franklin (Jordana Spiro), a female sportswriter who lives and works in Chicago, where she covers the Cubs. A life-long tomboy, P.J. spends most of her time with her male friends, Brendan (Reid Scott), Mike (Jamie Kaler), Kenny (Michael Bunin), and her brother, Andy (Jim Gaffigan). They play poker at P.J.'s apartment and often watch sports together. P.J.'s only female friend is Stephanie (Kellee Stewart), whom she met in college. P.J. befriends another sportswriter named Bobby (Kyle Howard), and he joins her group of friends as well. The show follows P.J.'s life as she tries to balance her male-dominated job and her male-dominated free-time, while still trying to date and have her own life.
I must admit, the first few episodes of My Boys did nothing for me. The stories were trite and predictable and the humor never tried to be clever. Outside of P.J., there was very little character development, even for a fledgling series -- the show did very little to differentiate between Mike and Kenny. P.J. is the show's anchor and I wasn't sure how I felt about her.
But, I stuck with My Boys and I'm glad that I did. As the show grew, it grew on me. The episodes began to teach us more about the characters and the writing became much better. The comedy stopped coming from such an obvious place and the jokes became more clever. I don't know if Jordana Spiro became more comfortable with her role, but P.J. became more appealing as the series continued. My Boys took a six-month hiatus mid-way through the season and apparently during that time it garnered some fans in Hollywood, because there are some great cameos from familiar stars in the second half of the season. The real star of the series during the latter half of Season One is Jim Gaffigan. The stand-up-turned-actor gets more and more screen time and it's great to see his brand of subtle, but silly humor in action. The episode in which he demonstrates the power of a tuxedo is hilarious.
Despite these improvement, My Boys still hits some rough spots. While P.J., Andy, Brendan, Bobby, and Stephanie receive some form of character development, Mike and Kenny languish behind. We learn that Mike is sort of a loud-mouthed jerk and Kenny never asks women out on real dates, but that's about it. The idea that P.J. tries to combine romance and her life with her friends may be the crux of the show, but her string of failed relationships grow tiresome. My Boys has an episode where it makes fun of Sex and the City, which is ironic, as the show clearly takes a page from that show. Three of P.J.'s relationships mirror (in some way) the Carrie/Mr. Big plot from the HBO series -- her romance with Hank has Mr. Big written all over it. Also, the show is somewhat monotonous in that so many of its scenes take place in the same locations. (Of course, this can be said of any sitcom.)
My Boys may not be a great show, but it's better than some of the swill on network TV and kudos must go to TBS for giving it a chance. The show is very similar to Friends in many ways, but imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. This isn't a show that I would have gone out of my way to watch, but I'm glad that I saw it and some of the episodes contained some very funny moments. I must admit, I'm curious about Season Two of My Boys (mostly due to the show's cliffhanger ending), and I'll be interested to see if the series takes the writing up a notch.
My Boys: The Complete First Season gathers around the poker table on DVD courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. This three DVD set contains all 22 episodes from the show's first season. The episodes are letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is sharp and clear, showing only a slight amount of grain in some shots and no defects from the source materials. The colors look very good and the image's brightness feels natural. There was some mild artifacting in some shots, but otherwise the transfer rivals digital cable quality. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The track provides some notable stereo effects, but being a sitcom, there isn't much in the way of subwoofer or surround effects save for musical cues.
The My Boys: The Complete First Season DVD set contains a small selection of bonus features. Disc 2 offers "Riding the Pine", which contains two DELETED SCENES which run about 2 minutes. The first scene lasts only about 10 seconds. The seconds, while not conducive to any plot, is funny. The remainder of the extras are found on Disc 3. "Life in the Press Box" (17 minutes) is a making-of featurette which thoroughly explores the show. Through comments from the cast and crew, we learn the real-life origins of the show. They also discuss the actors and characters, with the actors talking about how they got the role and how they approach their roles. "Sports Quiz" (5 minutes) has the actors and creator Betsy Thomas facing a series of sports questions. "Favorite Sport" (6 minutes) again has Thomas and the actors discussing their favorite sports. (Kyle Howard apparently is his character from Orange County.) "P.J.'s Rules for Sports and Dating" (9 minutes) is simply made up of clips from the show. "No Crying in Baseball" is a 7-minute gag reel. And for reasons unknown, the DVD contains an episode of Silver Spoons and Diff'rent Strokes, both of which feature Mr. T.
Review Copyright 2008 by Mike Long