‘My Boys’ – ‘The NTO’: The clumsy librarian

Senior Television Writer
08.15.10 11 Comments

TBS/Karen Neal

Because of Comic-Con and press tour, I haven’t been able to write about “My Boys” since before the season premiere. But I caught up on the episodes that aired when I was in California, and tonight’s episode was actually included on the screener TBS sent out before the season. So a brief review of “The NTO,” and where we are in general this season, coming up just as soon as I take the “Can you handle Megan Fox?” quiz…

There came a point midway through the lifespan of “Seinfeld” where the writers were clearly aware that any catchphrase they inserted into an episode had a good chance of entering the national lexicon. And they’d earned the right to think that. But occasionally, they would serve up an episode like “The Mango,” which felt like it was being made after the catchphrase had already been popularized, and that the mere mention of it should be enough to drive the audience into frenzied laughter.

“My Boys” has obviously never been remotely as popular as “Seinfeld” – nor, though I do enjoy the show a lot, remotely as funny – but it did give the world the concept of the douchebag intervention, and more recently gave us the man-sack. So I don’t begrudge the writers for going back to that well; I just think that “NTO” (the natural tapering-off period in a relationship) wasn’t a particularly successful one, in part because they were trying to name a concept that everybody knows and that already has several dozen other nicknames.

Still, “The NTO” as an episode was pretty solid. It demonstrated that, while the show works best with PJ as the straight man, Jordana Spiro can, in fact, do comedy when called upon – here turning PJ’s slutty librarian act into a slapstick disaster. It had yet another good subplot about Brendan making an ass of himself with a new girlfriend – here trying to get out of a relationship with Steph’s sister by claiming, “I don’t date women of color” – though it didn’t quite live up to last week’s storyline about him dating a much younger woman. (And since I was flying home when that one aired, I missed the chance to kick off the review with “just as soon as I go to a flashmob pillow fight,” darnit.) And it had the usual good assortment of stray one-liners, like Bobby’s observation that Mickey Rourke used to look like a person.

I worried going into the season that the show would struggle without Jim Gaffigan, since Andy was the most consistent source of actual laughs on a show that usually settled for just being likable. Overall, though, it feels like the writers and cast have taken Gaffigan’s departure as a challenge, because these first five episodes as a whole are about as funny an extended stretch as I can remember the show doing. And I’m pleased that the PJ/Bobby and Steph/Kenny couplings have only added to the laughs, once again supporting my theory that resolving Unresolved Sexual Tension does not, in fact, ruin comedies.

What did everybody else think?

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