"Help Me Help You" said the talking paperclip

There is certainly a tradition of humorous support or therapy groups on TV. The most noted examples are probably The Bob Newhart Show group (with Jack Riley, and Dobie Gillis’s mom, and Piglet), and Dear John‘s support group (with that guy who played George to Newhart’s Leo – or was it the other way around? – and the Mayor from Buffy, and Jere Burns. And now we have Help Me Help You, built around shrink Ted Danson and his group (with Suzy Nakamura, and, ummm, Jere Burns. That guy must really need help.)

At least in the pilot, the whole thing was a bit too scatter-shot. Every group member had their own story, and there wasn’t time for any of them to add up too much… and they weren’t that funny.

But the up side? In Danson’s own story, we get scenes where it’s just him and Jane Kaczmarek and Tom Wilson (who if you only know him as Biff from Back to the Future, you’ve missed some good and funny stuff.) And while the writing is nothing amazing, just watching these three talented actors work together, old hands exuding confidence.

In total, not painful to watch, not a must see. Sufficiently pleasant TV.

Published in: on October 1, 2006 at 2:26 am  Comments (7)  

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  1. A TV reviewer for one of the major local newspapers gave a poor review for this show and from what I saw I’d have to agree with that assessment, but I’m willing to give it a couple more tries anyway just because of some of the people involved. Plus I was distracted while the pilot ep was on, so I can’t really say I gave it a fair shot. But what I mainly wanted to say was that the reviewer in the paper mentioned some sort of network promotion of this show which called it something like The best group therapy comedy since ‘Dear John.’ The reviewer called that “damning with faint praise” for selecting the far lesser of the two most notable such sitcoms for comparison. Maybe they’re trying not to raise expectations too high.

  2. I may be one of the few persons in the world who has not seen any of the Back to the Future films, but I do remember Tom Wilson fondly as the gym coach in Freaks and Geeks. And I seem to recall that the creator(s?) of that show are involved with this sitcom too.

  3. And what’s the deal with Jane Kaczmarek and Bradley Whitford both in new shows this season? I would think that after simulaneous long runs on shows ending last season that they would want to take some time off before signing up with new ones. Or is there trouble at home they want to avoid? Just kidding.

  4. I don’t see either of the key names from F&G (Paul Feig and Judd Apatow — Apatow is on quite a roll on the big screen these days), but a quick web search finds some mention that two of the producers worked on Undeclared, so were probably part of the F&G scene.

    Kaczmarek and Whitford as a couple always made me smile, because you can’t quite see the characters their best known for getting along. (Jane’s only a recurring in Help Me, apparently, so she will get some resting time if she’s not taking on anything else. Same cannot be said for Bradley, of course.)

  5. My bad on the Freaks and Geeks reference. I had read of the Undeclared connection and misremembered which show was which when making my comment.

    I also noticed Jane’s absence on Help Me last night. Is Tom Wilson also listed as only recurring?

  6. Tom’s certainly not in the opening credits.
    Since Tom is playing Jane’s girlfriend, I doubt he’ll show up often without her.
    Tim Meadows did a reasonable job of fitting in tone last night. I still don’t love the show, though.
    (And meanwhile, Studio 60 is proving to be the worst series Sorkin ever created… but if there’s a term that’s the flip side of “damning with faint praise”, this is the place to apply it.)

  7. If you like apatow, you might like this clip of him acting in HELP ME HELP YOU.

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