Regular readers know that I am not a big television-watcher. I can no longer take dramas. And well-written sitcoms are few and far between. I enjoy Modern Family. And I like The Big Bang Theory. But I rarely watch either of them when they are broadcast. Often I’ll watch them months later. Recently, however, I discovered Life in Pieces, a new sitcom on CBS. And for the first time in a very long time, I find myself looking forward to watching an episode when it actually airs.
You may be wondering how I discover a show if I don’t watch TV. In the case of Life in Pieces, it happened this way:
After the kids go to sleep, Kelly will put on the TV for a little while. The kids are usually in bed at about 8 pm. She’ll watch TV for an hour. Usually, I’ll sit in bed and read, and since the TV is on, reading consists of listening to an audiobook. I can’t concentrate on reading words on a page with the TV in the background. So one day she was watching Life in Pieces, and something caught my eye as I listened to my audiobook. After each commercial break, the show would resume with some text that read something like, “Story #2: Gym.”
“What they mean, ‘Story #2’?” I asked Kelly.
“They do these short stories,” she explained.
As a writer of short stories, that intrigued me, and after watching an episode, I was hooked.
There are five things I really like about Life In Pieces:
- The format. I like the idea of telling four short stories in 21 minutes. No, make that, I love the idea.
- I like how the show is shot. It is not a studio audience sitcom, and there is no laugh track.
- I like the actors. I especially like Colin Hanks, who in mannerism and expressions is the spitting image of his father.
- Each story is written like a comedy sketch, but produced like a Modern Family-style sitcom.
- There isn’t an arc.
This last point is a big with me, and one of the reasons I can’t take dramas anymore. I don’t want to have to invest in watching all of the episodes that came before to understand the current episode. I want to be able to pop into any episode, and enjoy it on its own terms. The characters have clear relationships to one another, but the stories stand on their own. And you get four stories per episode. It is chapbook television at its finest.
I’m already looking forward to next Thursday at 8:30 pm. My only concern is whether or not I’ll still be awake at 8:30 pm.