For three seasons, the trials and tribulations of the Smart family have played out in the most hilarious, touching, and quirky-in-the-best ways on CBS’ Life in Pieces — done so in four, well, short stories… and with a top-notch ensemble cast. Ahead of the underrated comedy’s season 4 premiere on April 18, stars James Brolin, Dianne Wiest, Colin Hanks, Betsy Brandt, Thomas Sadoski, Zoe Lister-Jones, Dan Bakkedahl, and more told EW their favorite episodes. Read those below, and catch up on seasons 1-3 on Hulu.
The Life in Pieces pilot… really is my favorite episode because, from the moment I read on paper the nature of my oddball character, John Short, I was convinced that this series was made for me. The illogical and absurd opinions I get to finally express have made it all too enjoyable to play, laughing deeply on every terrific shooting day of the last four years.
“Testosterone Martyr Baked Knife” (season 3, episode 4)… I loved and dreaded all the episodes with a dining room eating scene. One that I’m now remembering had Dan [Bakkedahl] cut his finger while trying to use Jim [Brolin]’s ancient electric carving knife. Blood spilling on the turkey and table, while Jim chases the runaway knife and Colin [Hanks] and Giselle [Eisenberg] were nearly electrocuted by the frayed cord and everyone was screaming, “Call 911!”
I loved these scenes, though, because the entire family was gathered, and these are people who I dearly love.
“Burn Vasectomy Milkshake Pong” (season 1, episode 10)… This episode sticks out in my memory for two reasons: (a) The controlled burn scene with Zoe [Lister-Jones] was a ridiculous amount of fun to shoot and great setup for the two of us to really be able to play off of each other in the moment and find ways to make an already hilarious scene go even further. And (b) The pong sequence because of the Monica Seles yelps and that it played even better in slow motion.
“Boxing Opinion Spider Beard” (season 2, episode 6)… I think from a structure standpoint it’s one of our best episodes. The way all four stories connect at various points to tell a much larger story. We’ve had a few episodes like this, and that’s when I think our show offers something that none of the other shows on TV can. And while I would have much rather kept the real beard that I had grown that summer instead of the goat hair that was glued to my face, I really enjoyed using it as a running gag throughout the episode.
The fact that both episodes were directed by Jason Winer (Single Parents, Modern Family) and feature a music montage in the fourth story is no coincidence.
“Hospital Boudoir Time-Out Namaste” (season 1, episode 9)… I think season 1, my favorite episode was when Jen and Greg had a date night at the ER. Always love hangin’ and actin’ with my number-one TV husband, Mr. Colin Hanks. Especially when it’s in a hospital. J/K, I’m a hypochondriac so that part was a genuine nightmare.
This was a tough choice, but I have to say the pilot episode is still my favorite episode because we get to meet all of these characters that we grow to know and love in the next three seasons. That said, my favorite story is “Meal” story from “Meal Potty Cart Middle” (season 3, episode 5), the one in which Tim and Heather go to a very swanky restaurant for a multicourse gourmet meal. I love these two together, and when Heather asks Tim to burp her during the meal… I find it oddly romantic.
“Nanny Tent Earrings Cheeto” (season 1, episode 7)… I absolutely loved filming the camping story. Me, Tommy, and Colin stuck in a tent in our undies. (Rawr.) The guys were going to see Tom Petty and we had “apple and onion” wine, a Tim specialty.
And of course, Cheeto. That scene was a hard one to get through because we couldn’t stop laughing at the gorgeous and frightening nightmare of Cheeto’s grin. A real “family day” keepsake.
“Godparent Turkey Corn Farts” (season 1, episode 8)… Our first Thanksgiving episode will always have a very special place in my fart. Uh, heart.
“Swim Survivor Ze Talk” (season 2, episode 7)… My favorite episode was in season 2, the episode Matt teaches Colleen how to swim. It is one of the strongest episodes as a couple, and we truly bonded as we were in the water for 12 hours straight! It shows #Molleen as a couple really well and how they perfectly complement each other. It was so much fun, and one of my favorite days on the show!
“The 12 Shorts of Christmas” (season 3, episode 8)… Hilarious performances by the whole cast (including a moving debut from a depressive Roomba) and a unique new structure that’s unlike any episode of TV I’ve ever seen.
“Meal Potty Cart Middle” (season 3, episode 5)… It’s the story where Clementine gets a job as a cart girl at the golf course and Tyler gets jealous of the attention she’s getting from the golfers. He winds up stealing her cart girl job from her and has to dress the part in her uniform, which catches his dad Tim by surprise when he thinks it’s a cute girl in short shorts. It’s such a funny episode, and getting to work with Niall, Dan, and Jim is always a blast. It’s hard to keep a straight face!
HOLLY J. BARRETT
“Ponzi Sex Paris Bounce” (season 1, episode 6)… Dan Bakkedahl and I got to jump around on a bounce house for most of the time while shooting. There is also a really sweet scene between Samantha and Tim that reminds me a lot of my dad and I.
It’s really hard to pick favorites, that’s like picking a favorite child!!! My first round came up with nine favorites! They are all so great, and for different reasons. Most are hilarious, and some are sweet. Different stories let me work with all the different amazing actors on our show. It’s so hard to pick!!! 😱😱 I have thought about it and here are my top three favorite episodes from Life In Pieces:
“Hospital Boudoir Time-Out Namaste” (season 1, episode 9)… In this episode, Sophia gets a time-out for using bad language and the way it’s done really allows everyone to get inside Sophia’s thinking and see how she operates. She’s super-smart, totally understands how grown-ups think, and sees things her own way. Usually you don’t get to hear what’s going on inside someone’s head, but here you do… and it’s hilarious. I especially like that Sophia is disappointed that there’s no portal to Narnia in her closet!!!
“Cheap Promotion Flying Birthday” (season 2, episode 4)… After Sophia’s slightly inaccurate but very funny school report on Amelia Earhart (awesome wardrobe here), Pop-Pop takes Sophia flying to help her conquer her fears. Things do NOT go as planned. Working with James Brolin is always so wonderful. We have a special chemistry and bond, and the Sophia/Pop-Pop stories are always a highlight of each season for me.
“Toilet Shaving Stuck Fertility” (season 3, episode 12)… Sophia is growing up, and she wants to shave her legs. Of course her mom [Heather, played by Betsy Brandt] says no and that she is too young. If you have watched Life In Pieces at all, you know that Sophia probably will not just accept that answer. This is one of my favorite displays of Sophia winning her arguments in the way that only Sophia can. What follows is just soooo Sophia. I love scenes with Betsy. She is obviously my TV mom, but so much more than that too. When you see us on camera of course it is acting, but it is also real. I just love her.
Honorable Mention: “The 12 Shorts of Christmas” (season 3, episode 8)… This one always makes me laugh!! Sophia accidentally consumes lots of alcohol by mistakenly drinking eggnog instead of milk😱!!! I, of course, have never experienced this, so I watched Dudley Moore in Arthur to help prepare for my performance. I think I did a good job.
ANA SOPHIA HEGER
“Pageant Bike Animals Jerk” (season 3, episode 16)… I got to wear fancy dresses and learn fun dance routines. I especially loved dancing along with Angelique Cabral, and I got to wear heels, which I’m not allowed to in real life.
Life in Pieces returns for its fourth season Thursday, April 18, at 8:30 p.m. ET on CBS.