CBS' charming family sitcom Life in Pieces whips out some big guns in its Season 2 premiere Thursday. First, there's real-life married duo/comedic treasure Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman scoring laughs in the very first scenes as an extremely unsettling husband and wife with a very unusual marriage. Then the quirky sitcom whips something else out: a series of awkward (and hilarious) events that bring attention to the, uh, anatomy of its main male characters.
In that story's climax, Tim's (Dan Bakkedahl) brothers-in-law Greg (Colin Hanks) and Matt (Thomas Sadoski) stumble on the discovery that he's... shall we say much more gifted than anyone would've ever thought. Now Tim's kin sees him in a whole new light and Bakkedahl 's first instinct, he told TVGuide.com, was to amplify the moment. "In the first take," he said, "I'm basically sitting on it. And I'm like, 'Ow!"
The joke got tweaked a little — if you pay close attention during Thursday's premiere you'll see how — but that certainly won't be the last time the actor improvises on the show. Tim is pretty much a lovable doofus with a knack for corny dad jokes: a skill the actor uses in real life, too. "It's a bit of me in there," he said. "Kids think terrible jokes are funny. I've got two of my own and in a way, the intention is make them smarter by making me dumber. I say and do dumb things all the time and they go, 'Dad!' I go, 'Man! You are so smart!'"
He's smarter than he gives himself credit for, if only because he's learned to play his part confidently among a cast full of luminaries. Megastar James Brolin plays Tim's father-in-law John, Thomas Sadoski is an acclaimed theater actor and two-time Oscar winner Dianne Wiest plays Joan, the mother of Tim's wife Heather (Betsy Brandt).
"It's an honor to work with a group like this. I'm just about the only person who's been strictly comedy my whole career. When you're having a conversation with Dianne between takes you have to bench yourself."
Chemistry between the players is undeniable, and you'll see more of it in Season 2 as storylines criss cross in a way they hadn't before. "I think the cool thing this season is crossing the families a little more," he said. With the connections and personalities of this big family established, you'll see less reliance on mother-daughter, father-son interactions and more grandparent with grandchild, two brothers-in-law and so on. "It fleshes out the full family more," he said. "They mingle more."
You'll also see boxing champion Victor Ortiz in the second episode (along with model Jasmine Tookes) in a story that involves John getting owned by his granddaughter Samantha (Holly J. Barrett). Bakkedahl teased that we'll also see former football player Kurt Warner when the family checks out the Los Angeles Rams, and a "Throwback Thursday" yarn that catches glimpses of the family in the late '90s, in 2005 and in 2013. "The hair obviously becomes a big deal," he said. "There was a lot of wig work going on. Every day you could not wait to see what other cast members would look like."
As fun as Life in Pieces is, it's challenging he said, as he has to work to be believable. As the sitcom can turn from absurdist to emotional pretty quickly, he, like his castmates, has to ground his character with some gravitas even though he's often really, really dim. Tim will go to great lengths to cover up hair he accidentally shaves this season, and then, with wife Heather insistent on working at his medical practice, his home life and work life collide. "It's funny seeing him trying to be the boss while his boss (his wife) is there." That goes on for a few episodes but, Tim being Tim, the experiment meets an inevitable demise.
"Of course it flames out," he said. "It's Tim!"
Season 2 of Life in Pieces premieres Thursday, Oct. 27 at 9:30/8:30c on CBS.
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