Television review

‘Back in the Game’ a fun spin on ‘Bad News Bears’

 

More information

Back in the Game. 8:30-9 p.m. WPLG-ABC 10.


ggarvin@MiamiHerald.com

The Bad News Bears, a deliriously funny 1976 film about a Little League team of outcasts and cast-offs, has had a long and mostly inglorious afterlife, spawning two sequels, a remake and even a short-lived TV show notable mostly for giving Corey Feldman his first starring role. (Your objection to my dubious usage of “notable” is, well, noted.) Their quality has ranged from “tepid” to “possibly associated with brain cancer.”

Finally, though, we have a worthy — if unofficial — successor. ABC’s new sitcom Back in the Game is a gleefully misanthropic clone of The Bad New Bears . And however many points you dock it for lack of originality, you’ve got to give back double for ferociously funny execution.

“Clone” is probably not quite the right word for Back in the Game, which varies the Bad News Bears formula in one key way: The team is coached by a single mom. Maggie Lawson (the lithe blonde cop in USA’s Psych) plays Terry, an All American softball player in college until she lost her scholarship to an unplanned pregnancy and her sanity to her overbearing ex-jock dad (James Caan), who once peed on home plate after a loss.

Estranged from both baseball and her father, she begrudgingly reunites with the latter after a disastrous divorce and reluctantly agrees to coach the Little League team her son has joined to impress a girl. Her players are an amiable bunch of spastics and slackers whose skills are not enhanced by her father’s efforts to help coach. (“Hit that first kid right square in the face,” he counsels a pitcher. “You’ll scare the crap out of all of them.”)

No matter who’s on screen or what they’re doing, Back in the Game is gut-bustingly hilarious: A fascist father, after seeing a fly ball dropped, snarls, “I wish I were 12 so I could punch that kid.” Maggie’s son, Danny, fends off a bully by kissing him. (“That kid’s scared of me now,” he brags to a girl, who muses, “You’re weird. I like that.”)

But the best scenes are those between Lawson, still brimming with unspilled rage over her mis-parented childhood, and the unrepentant Caan. Almost any memory can trigger her rants, especially the barbaric recollection of her first menstrual period. “You told me to walk it off!” she shouts. As one of the other moms tells Terry: “You have issues. We’re going to be great friends.’’ Oh yeah.

Read more Glenn Garvin: On TV stories from the Miami Herald

  •  
Original 1950s As The World Turns opening.

    In 2006, the world kept turning

    An April 2006 look back at a half-century of ''As the World Turns.''

  • TELEVISION

    Review | 'Good Family' makes fun of the world's do-gooders

    Life's not easy if you're an organic-eating, tree-hugging, SUV-eschewing, carbon-footprintless, gender-identity-indifferent, diversity-celebrating, nonjudgmental (well, except for those damn U.S. flag pins) vegan pacifist. Just ask Gerald and Helen Goode, the First Couple of PC America.

  •  
Everglades City put on a weekend-long celebration when the Tamiami Trail opened 80 years ago this week, on April 25th, 1928.

    The Trail at 80: A new documentary retraces the eccentricities of South Florida's signature highway

    Escape to Dreamland, 9-10 p.m. Sunday, WLRN-PBS 17 Because I grew up halfway across the country in the middle of a desert, my knowledge of Florida's sultry southern tip was vague and tenuous. For years my dominant and perhaps only mental image of South Florida was grubby tenement rat Dustin Hoffman's quiet expiration in the back of the bus at the end of Midnight Cowboy, the beaches he dreamed of shimmering delusively in the background.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category