Serena Hope Hohenstein ’17/ Emertainment Monthly Staff
Loyal fans of USA network’s Psych will be pleasantly surprised by Maggie Lawson’s performance in Back in the Game. One of the main reasons people are tuning in (or at least thinking about tuning in) is Lawson, and let me tell you, she did not disappoint! And neither did the rest of the cast, for that matter! It doesn’t take an avid sitcom fan to enjoy the show. Back in the Game shows promise of program with a lot of heart and brings viewers into the lives of a loving dysfunctional family that many people can relate to.
Lawson plays former All American fast pitch softball player, Terry Gannon, who has recently gone through a divorce and is now living at her dad’s house with her young son, Danny. Terry’s dad, Terry Sr. (a.k.a. The Cannon), played by the magnificent James Caan, is a little (A LOT) harsh when it comes to communicating with pretty much anybody, especially his daughter and grandson. Terry even admits to him wrecking her emotionally when she was growing up, and worries that he’ll do the same to Danny (Griffin Gluck). While trying to figure out his new life in a new town, Danny tries out for a select baseball league in order to impress a girl at school. Terry is unsure of this because of how Terry Sr. might react, but lets her little man go and gives him all the support in the world!
The team rosters are announced, but Danny is not on any of the lists. Terry, along with other parents of cut kids go to the board and express their frustration. The head of the league (who’s a SUPER jerk! Also, his name is Dick, so, you know, there’s that…) responds by saying that there just isn’t enough room in the budget. One of the moms who Terry had spoken with during the try-outs volunteers to give the money, but that doesn’t stop the jerky baseball league boss from giving more excuses. He then says that there’s no one to coach the boys. Reluctant, but determined, Terry steps up and volunteers to coach. The men are skeptical because she’s a woman, but Terry makes a deal with them: If the head of the league can hit her pitch, nothing will happen, but if he doesn’t, Terry gets to coach the team of “misfit” kids. At the field, Terry fires a pitch… right at Dick’s head! So, because he didn’t hit it, Terry gets to coach the kids! Later that night, Dick brings Terry the uniforms. As he leaves, Terry realizes that the name is misspelled and they are now the Angles instead of the Angels! Uh-oh!
At the first practice, each of the kids introduces themselves in some form or another. In this moment I fell for every one of them! They’re kids that make you really want to root for them! Even though she’s a little taken aback by the craziness of the kids, Terry regains composure and gives the kids a wonderful speech about being misfits and how it’s going to feel when they can do something to prove to all the other kids that they’re good at something. Of course, when practice starts, it doesn’t look all too promising, but Terry’s got the drive to give something to these boys that they’ve never had the chance to experience.
Back at home, Terry looks for her old college mitt and enlists Danny to help. While in the garage, Danny stumbles on something that shocks his mother. It’s videotapes of every single one of Terry’s college games. All these years she had thought that her dad wasn’t committed enough to her and didn’t follow through on his promise to always be there. She has a moment of emotion before going into the house and confronting her father. She brings him a beer and asks him to help her coach the team. At first The Cannon says he could manage, but Terry shoots that idea down fairly quickly. Assistant coach is all he’ll be, she tells him, and he obliges. And the pilot comes to a close! Well, save for a brief moment where The Cannon busts up “Dick’s” car, which turns out to be the car of a random person. Ooops!
Overall, I am pleasantly surprised by the amount of heart Back in the Game has. I didn’t expect to fall in love with it so quickly, but I did! The characters are loveable and the plot is one that can clearly be developed over time. My only complaint is the character of Dick. He’s a little too over the top and takes the spotlight away from the focus of the show. But, from this, we get to see Terry’s strength, which was definitely something worth seeing. There’s just something wonderfully refreshing about this character. Maybe it’s how much she truly cares for her son and even her father (no matter how many “son of a bitch’s” she uses to describe him). Lawson, Caan, and Gluck do a fantastic job of portraying a dysfunctional yet loving family.
Check out this lovely new comedy on Wednesdays at 8:30/7:30 C on ABC,