"The McCarthys" gets its laughs -- bit ones -- the old-fashioned way: Studio audience, living-room set, clever lines. The result is great fun; here's the story I sent to papers:
By MIKE HUGHES
Like lots of other
guys, Brian Gallivan grew up not knowing or caring about sports.
It's just that he
picked the wrong place and the wrong family for that.
The place was
Boston, home of Celtics, Red Sox, Patriots (nearby), Bruins and
general craziness. And the family is what inspired him to write his
“The McCarthys” comedy series.
“My dad ... was a
very successful basketball coach,” Gallivan said. “And my
brothers have coached. My sisters coached. A brother played
basketball in college. My mother knows more about basketball than I
do. They just love basketball.”
And he ... well,
grasped to understand it. “I did try very hard, especially around
7th and 8th grade,” Gallivan said. “So I
have a really great knowledge of the Celtics at a very certain time.”
Somehow, it all
works out, simply making more material for good-natured jibes. “My
family expresses love thrugh insultig each other,” Gallivan said.
And that led to “The
Gallivan had moved
to Chicago and joined the Second City comedy troupe, where his “sassy
gay friend” character was popular. He wrote for Chelsea Handler's
situation comedy and then for ABC's “Happy Endings.” That's when
he wrote “McCarthys,” based on his family.
Well, loosely based.
“My sisters called me (and said), 'You tell them we've never had a
DUI. We've never carriedle a dead man's baby.'”
Such things do
happen in the larger-than-life “McCarthys” world, accompanied by
verbal jabs. The show's first pilot was shot single-camera style,
without an audience; the insults seemed “a little dark,” Gallivan
said. A new version, with a studio audience laughing along, seemed
From that first
version, the show kept the actor playing the dad (Jack McGee of
“Rescue Me”). It also kept the two brothers -- Joey McIntyre (of
New Kids on the Block) and Jack Dunn.
Both use their own
Boston accents; Dunn, who has worked in the Boston Garden and Fenway
Park, fits the role easily. “I'm a pretty hard-core Boston sports
fan,” he said. “When somebody from Boston doesn't know how the
Red Sox did last night, that's really strange to me .... Like, don't
you have cable?”
Joining them for the
new version were Kelen Coleman as their sister, Laurie Metcalf
(“Roseanne”) as their mom and Tyler Ritter as Ronny, the
character Gallivan patterned after himself.
For Ritter, doing
comedy with a studio audience seems natural. “I grew up around the
sets of 'Hearts Afire' ... and I got to see my father (John Ritter)
enjoy himself at his work .... And I got to see my brother (Jason) on
'The Class,' ... just loving every second of it.”
He understands the
comedy part. All he has to fake is the accent and the total
disinterest in sports.
McCarthys,” 9:30 p.m. Thursdays, CBS; debuts Oct. 30