CBS’s Life in Pieces is a family sitcom that follows one big family with four short stories every week, but will the format really keep viewers interested and invested in the relationships?
There clearly has been a lack of large family comedies in recent years, the most noteable being Modern Family. In today’s hyper distracted family environment, having a slice of big family drama wrapped in sitcom humor is a refreshing escape from reality.
In Life in Pieces we follow four parts of the Short family in small segments that reference each other but do not really interact with each other. This gives the show the unique concept to keep the stories independent, but possibly cripplingly short for a 22 minute program.
The short segments do help focus attention on the fairly strong cast. Family elders Joan and John Short (Dianne Wiest and James Brolin) are doting and a bit eccentric in their age. Bachelor son Matt (Thomas Sadoski) is a bit of a wanderer who still lives with his parents.
Daughter Heather (Betsy Brandt) and her husband Tim (Dan Bakkadahl) are attempting to cope with their children growing up especially in the wake of their eldest son visiting colleges. Finally, son Greg and his wife Jen (Colin Hanks and Zoe Lister) bring the young married perspective to the viewer with their newborn baby.
The casting of the series is actually a quite remarkable balance of good talent and chemistry among the generations, as well as between the generations.
I think the biggest weakness, and possibly the shows strength, is the unique split of the storylines into four distinct parts that seemingly will develop independently over the season. It’s quite different than it’s competition Modern Family with the standard A Story/B Story structure. The question is will there be enough substance to maintain four individual stories each week or will it leave viewers with too much of too little development?
It seems as if the show plays more to the strengths of the cast in the form of short comedy sketches as opposed to longer traditional storylines. With a lack of time to really develop a story each week, I fear the series will just end up into a collection of short sketches that revolve around common generational clichés.
In the pilot we get old people can’t use remotes, older couple freaks out about children growing up, new couple gets the adventure of a new baby, and single guy continuously crashes and burns at relationships. There are only so many jokes you can build out of generational themes.