I’m Not Your Friend (CBS) pilot preview: Say hello (and goodbye) to Daddy Le Blanc!

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Created by JeffJackie Filgo (That ’70s Show, Old Christine). Directed by James Burrows (2 Broke Girls, Friends, Will & Grace, Frasier, Cheers). Produced by Matt LeBlanc, Michael Rotenberg (Silicon ValleyIt’s always sunny in Philadelphia, Everybody hates Chris), Troy Zien, Jeff & Jackie Filgo. For CBS, CBS Television Studios & 3 Arts Entertainment. 48 pages.

Description: a contractor learns that raising his kids is more challenging than expected when his wife goes back to work and he has to take care of the little monsters by himself all day long…

With Matt Le Blanc (Friends, Joey, Episodes), Jenna Fischer (The Office, You Me and the Apocalypse)…

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If you’ve never seen an episode of Episodes, then you haven’t seen what Matt LeBlanc is capable of. Unfortunately, it’s not in I’m Not Your Friend you’ll see him doing something new or innovative. Except it could be weird for a few minutes to watch him in a multicamera sitcom again, in front of a live audience, not as plain stupid Joey Tribiani but as a dad. A dad like many others on TV: “masculine” and “old school”. Yep, that’s the way his character is described in the script. So original. And for the record, the wife is “smart” and “adorable”. And younger than him. Even if the “stay-at-home” dad part can be seen as progress -from 10 years ago- it doesn’t sound like this sitcom will bring anything new to the table. One good news though: with more or less the same pitch, it’s better than Kevin James’ direct-to-series terrible comedy Kevin Can Wait, also for CBS (Read the preview). And it says a lot about the state of sitcoms on the channel…

See, my main problem with this project is that in the BBC/Showtime show, Matt Le Blanc played a reckless version of himself and he was fun, showing another side of his talent. It turned out he was not the one trick pony we all thought he was. He was able to make fun of himself with dignity, even if this Matt Le Blanc had none. He got my respect for that. But now, doing this crappy sitcom is a huge step back! I know he has to make money and take care of his family but I really feel like he took the first pilot he was asked for. More patience wouldn’t have hurt. CBS is said to be high on the project (giving Le Blanc a series commitment for 13 episodes). What did they and he see in it I didn’t? Still searching…

Maybe I’m too harsh, maybe that’s the kind of comforting sitcom you’re happy to watch with your family on the couch. But compared to Modern Family or The Goldbergs or Fresh Off The Boat or The Middle or Blackish, well any comedy on ABC, it’s totally outdated. It could appeal somehow to old people, nostalgic of Everybody Loves Raymond, but it’s not even as good as these old sitcoms were! And last time I checked, the goal of CBS was to rejuvenate their offer. Do I sound angry? I am. I don’t know what to tell you about the story or the characters. It’s what you expect from this kind of same old pitch: daddy stays at home and discovers it’s hard to take care of children and it’s not rewarding being the bad cop; while mommy is very happy to get her job back, and the kisses and the hugs at the end of the day. Yes, you can do 100 tired episodes of this but few people will want to watch them. There are a few good jokes, especially when Adam is at his children’s school, but that’s it. At least, if Matt Le Blanc is good in it and has a good chemistry with his partners, then it could be okay-ish.

I’m Not Your Friend is a bad vehicle for Matt Le Blanc returning to network comedy. He deserved better after 5 years of the excellent Episodes. Clearly, he’s not our friend Joey anymore.

 

READ COURTENEY COX’S PILOT PREVIEW

2 comments

  1. bmesc says:

    Any thoughts on the fact James Burrows is directing? Can he bring anything new, do anything different with the script, or cast?

    • Lulla says:

      He probably knows Matt Le Blanc’s acting better than anyone else, it’s definitely a plus. But James Burrows’s directing doesn’t always translate into success (see Partners, Sean Saves The World and many others…)

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