bobby moynihan me myself and i

Hugely successful series like The Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother have kept CBS' reputation for audience-pleasing comedy alive in recent years, not to mention keeping multi-camera sitcoms in the limelight. With Me, Myself & I, though, the network is eschewing a live audience to embrace a timeline-hopping story full of interesting characters, hilarious jokes and heartwarming moments. Led by former Saturday Night Live star Bobby Moynihan and a smorgasbord of wildly talented actors, Me, Myself & I is CBS' best new comedy in years, as well as the standout new comedy of the fall season.

From a structure standpoint, Me, Myself & I is quite different from what TV fans are used to seeing. It tells the problem-filled story of Alex Riley across three life-changing points in his life, while also utilizing "talking head" segments to add exposition. (Though not quite in the faux-documentary style of The Office.) The present-day Alex is portrayed by Bobby Moynihan in his first lead role on primetime TV, and he makes the most of this opportunity, playing a character who is as frustrated and he is frustrating to others. (Moynihan can also be heard delivering laughs in the new DuckTales reboot, so he's currently on fire.)

40-year-old Alex is going through a rough patch. For one, he's an inventor who hasn't exactly taken the world by storm with his ideas, but he knows that his Next Great Idea is just around the corner. He's dealing with the aftermath of a messy divorce, and is living in the garage of his very understanding best friend and business partner Darryl, who is played by Family Matters vet Jaleel White. This living situation obviously presents problems for Alex when it comes to spending time with the most important person in his life, his daughter Abby (Skylar Gray).

jack dylan grazer in me myself and I

But as we learn in the first minute of Me, Myself & I, another one of Alex's lifelong favorite people is NBA legend Michael Jordan. Which takes us back to 1991, when Alex's life was first upended, thanks to his mother's new boyfriend moving them to Los Angeles, right in the heart of Laker Country. 14-year-old Alex is played by IT standout Jack Dylan Grazer, who is just as impressive and energetic on the small screen, and the CBS show could indeed find itself a wealth of viewers based on his involvement, considering IT's bonkers success. (And for what it's worth, especially to Chicago Bulls fans, basketball isn't just a passive plot element here.)

To be expected, Alex isn't initially gung-ho about his new family members, which includes his mom's beau Ron (Brian Unger) and soon-to-be-stepbro Justin (Christopher Paul Richards). As irritating as they may be at times, both Ron and the scheming Justin are really good-natured to both Alex and his mom Maggie (Mandell Maughan), which was a nice touch, considering how often TV step-families are shown to be hellish entities. Not that Alex is immediately willing to give either of them the benefit of the doubt, especially with their basketball tastes straying so far from the Bulls.

Honestly, I found young Alex's story to be the most enjoyable early on, as it nails the coming-of-age aesthetic that Freaks and Geeks and The W__onder Years did so well. He's dealing with the issues that come along with being the new kid in school, and even though he makes a quick friend in one of the most popular girls in school, Nori Sterling (Reylynn Caster), it's not like Alex is well-equipped to deal with such things. To that end, the pilot delivers one of the biggest laugh-out-loud moments in all of 2017 TV in the third act.

Everything that Young Alex and Mid-Life Alex get out of life leads to the weathered Older Alex, played by the always excellent sitcom vet John Larroquette, who indeed embodies the natural progression of this character's lifelong arc. The big moment Older Alex is going through involves an ill-timed heart attack, which becomes a big issue with his work duties. (His life did get better on that end of the spectrum, at least.) Without getting too into details, I'll say that we get to also see Adult Abby, played by Big Little Lies' Kelen Coleman, as well as Older Nori, played by TV fave Sharon Lawrence. (As well, Ed Begley Jr. will play Older Justin, who managed to be even more successful than Alex later in life.)

Me, Myself & I was created by Dan Kopelman, a former writer/producer for Malcolm in the Middle who has experience with series aimed at both kids and adults. He's also written and produced for shows such as Rules of Engagement, Emily's Reasons Why Not, Galavant and True Jackson, VP. It'll take some time to see if this new series will get to last for multiple seasons as most of Kopelman's other shows have, but I have more confidence than Alex in Me, Myself & I's chances for success.

With its quirky set-up, Me, Myself & I will likely seem out of left field for regular CBS viewers, but in a TV season that also sees the Big Bang Theory prequel Young Sheldon kicking off (also without a studio audience), it will hopefully feel right at home as soon as people start watching. After all, it's rocking a lot more than just the time-hopping element, what with its humor that bounces from chuckle-worthy to intentionally cringe-worthy, and the sincerity it brings to the ups and downs of family life. For anyone who worried about Bobby Moynihan possibly making a bad decision to jump from SNL to this new show, those worries can be put firmly in the rear-view mirror. Plus, I mean, we're getting Jaleel White back in primetime. Tune in, or you'll regret it 25 years from now.

8 / 10 stars
Rating: movie reviewed rating

Me, Myself & I will make its laugh-tastic debut on CBS on Monday, September 25, at 9:30 p.m. ET. Next week has all the big premieres coming to network TV, so be sure to check our fall TV schedule to fill your evenings properly.

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