Ever think about what you were like when you were younger? Or where you might be in 25 years? Ever wonder if in that future, you might look like John Larroquette? These questions and more are answered, sort of, in the new CBS sitcom Me, Myself & I, starring fresh SNL alum Bobby Moynihan, Jack Dylan Grazer (It), and Night Court‘s own John Larroquette.
Me, Myself & I is split into three parts and bounces between them all in an attempt to capture a single character, Alex Riley, in three phases of his life: as a hopeful and creative 14-year-old (Grazer), a somewhat bereft and frustrated inventor at 40 (Moynihan), and a business exec on the brink of retirement (Larroquette) who’s in search of a new lease on life.
If all this sounds a bit earnest, well, that’s because it is — glancing at life through large-scale time lapses makes the show, as playful as it tries to be, feel like the montage at the end of a heartfelt drama, complete with valuable life lessons learned. If Me, Myself & I wants to bring more laughs, the transitions between these eras could use a tweak, or maybe even an overhaul.
Let’s take those eras one at a time. As Alex at 14, Grazer — who, as hypochondriac Eddie, was one of the most impressive standouts in this month’s horror blockbuster It — evokes a similar manic-but-appealing quality, in spite of a forced, gimmicky plot point that reminds us, ad nauseam, that this kid is an inventor. For practically every situation that arises, Alex, like a cartoon character with his ACME bag, has the perfect invention. Maybe we didn’t need to hit on this quirk more than three times in one half-hour episode?
Which brings us to another of the show’s framing devices, one significantly less imaginative than the incessant time jumps: basketball. The young Alex is introduced to us as a Michael Jordan-obsessed basketball uber-fan who, in the first five minutes of the show, is whisked from Chicago to Los Angeles (“Laker country”) when his mom remarries. Basketball metaphors remain a staple in Alex’s outlook and verbiage throughout the episode, regardless of which actor portrays him.
Moynihan does his best to anchor the show as the present-day Alex, and Me, Myself & I proves that the actor has the chops to be a dramatic leading man — his talking heads, when he tells the camera about his current mess of a life, have a seriousness to them that might be better suited for This Is Us. Here, they feel heavy handed, further contributing to the awkward gravitas of the show as a whole.
In 2017, Alex is trying his best to keep his…invention company (for lack of a better term) afloat, pitching culturally insensitive ideas to potential investors (like chopsticks with a retractable fork on one end, which he pitches to a room of Japanese suits in one of the episode’s more lackluster comedic moments). One bright spot comes in the form of another classic TV legend, Jaleel White (that’s right, Urkel!), who plays Alex’s super-together best friend and CFO.
As game as White is, the sequence where he tries to help Alex generate ideas for new inventions falls flat, culminating in a sequence involving pot brownies that shows the pair laughing and then passed out on easy chairs…and that’s it (c’mon! There are so many directions they could have gone with that).
But don’t fret: You too can pass out on an easy chair after eating a magic brownie at 40 and still grow up to become an accomplished businessman. The next time we meet Alex, he’s 65 and the head of a quasi-futuristic company (this is, after all, supposed to be 2042, so there are very faint clues like a floating digital “Welcome Back” sign at a work function). He is able to retire, on the spot, without alerting anyone in advance.
Out of all three portrayals of Alex, Larroquette’s is the most happy-go-lucky — they do say life’s foibles seem to matter less the older you get. But aside from the constant basketball expressions, a few well-placed smiles, and a rehearsed tic (some sort of chin tap), the actors never quite mesh into one character. But Me, Myself & I has a few fun supporting players — aside from White, there’s Sharon Lawrence as Alex’s long-lost love interest from grade school (the pair’s falling out at a dance back in said grade school is actually one of the episode’s most successful sequences, thanks mainly to Grazer’s flustered charm), and Big Little Lies’ Kelen Coleman is breezy and appealing as Alex’s adult daughter who — surprise — manages a basketball team.
Show creator Dan Kopelman, previously a writer and producer on Malcolm in the Middle and co-executive producer on Galavant, might be a bit too at home with this warm, family-friendly tone to build in any sense of unpredictability, and the show is still missing truly uproarious comedic moments. The way the pilot plays, with each actor’s world linked by (already too matchy-matchy) editing cues, it begs the question: Short of some Quantum Leap-style time traveling, where else can Me, Myself & I go?
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