Monday, February 26, 2018

CBS Mid-Season Pilot Review: Living Biblically - Premieres Tonight (Feb. 26); NBC Switches Timeslots for Two New Comedies

Living Biblically

Living Biblically - Mondays at 9:30PM ET/PT on CBS
Premieres Monday, February 26, 2018 at 9:30PM ET/PT


by Todd

Chip Curry is a modern day man at a crossroads in his life, who decides to live strictly in accordance with the Bible. A film critic for a New York Newspaper and a soon-to-be father, Chip wants to be a better man following the loss of his best friend. He decides to put his slightly obsessive temperament to use and start living his life 100% by the Bible to find direction. His smart, pregnant wife, Leslie, while both skeptical and entertained by her husband’s new passion, supports him completely. Knowing he'll need some practical advice, Chip forms a “God Squad” with Father Gene, a Catholic Priest who helps Chip translate the rules of the Bible to a modern world; and Father Gene's best friend, easygoing Rabbi Gil Abelman, who respects Chip's chutzpah and is glad to serve as a sounding board when they meet at their local bar. At Chip's newspaper, he finds support from his no-nonsense boss, Ms. Meadows, who knows Chip’s self-penned story will sell newspapers, and his co-worker and friend, Vince, who is quick with a reality check and likes to wind Chip up for his own amusement. As he begins his sincere spiritual journey toward a more moral life with the help of his wife and friends, Chip wonders if he'll be able to take a page – or every page – out of the Good Book, and if the effect will be of Biblical proportions.

Cast Details:

Jay R. Ferguson as Chip Curry
Lindsey Kraft as Leslie Curry
Ian Gomez as Father Gene
David Krumholtz as Rabbi Gil Abelman
Tony Rock as Vince
Camryn Manheim as Ms. Meadows

Jay R. Ferguson (Chip Curry) recently starred in The Real O'Neals. His first sitcom starring role was as Taylor Newton in Evening Shade. Some of his other television credits include The Outsiders, Glory Days, Judging Amy, Surface, Easy Money, Mad Men and Twin Peaks.

Lindsey Kraft (Leslie Curry) has appeared in the recurring role of Allison in Grace and Frankie. Some of her other television credits include NCIS, 2 Broke Girls, Getting On, Veep, Modern Family, Suits, The Newsroom, The Ranch, Lethal Weapon, Childrens Hospital and Bones.

Ian Gomez (Father Gane) starred as Courteney Cox's lovable neighbor Andy in Cougar Town. Some of his other starring credits include The Drew Carey Show, Felicity, The Norm Show, Jake in Progress and Rita Rocks.

David Krumholtz (Rabbi Gil Abelman) is best known for his role as Charlie Eppes in Numb3rs. Some of his other credits include Chicago Sons, The Trouble with Normal, The Lyon's Den, Partners and The Deuce.

Tony Rock (Vince) starred as Dirk Black in All of Us. Some of his other credits include Everybody Hates Chris and Mann and Wife. He is the younger brother of Chris Rock.

Camryn Manheim (Ms. Meadows) is best known for her roles as attorney Ellenor Frutt in The Practice and as Delia Banks in Ghost Whisperer. Some of her other television credits include The L Word, Harry's Law, Criminal Minds, Person of Interest and Extant.

Pilot Plot:

"Pilot" (Airs February 26 at 9:30PM ET)

Chip Curry (Jay R. Ferguson) is a modern-day man at a crossroads in his life who decides to live strictly in accordance with the Bible.

Directed by Andy Ackerman
Written by Patrick Walsh
Guest stars: Sara Gilbert as Cheryl, Joe DeRosa as Gary, June Squibb as Mrs. Murphy, Carla Renata as Gracie, Tiffany Panhilason as Josie

"False Idols" (Airs March 5 at 9:30PM ET)

When Father Gene and Rabbi Gil (the “God Squad”) point out to Chip that his addiction to his smartphone is the same as worshiping a false idol, Chip decides to stop using it, causing his wife, Leslie, and his officemates to worry about his whereabouts.

Directed by Andy Ackerman
Written by Sophia Lear
Guest stars: Sara Gilbert as Cheryl, Lateefa Holder as Ticket Clerk, Gary Kraus as Rick, A.J. Rivera as Florist, Forte Rodriguez as Police Officer

Analysis:

Living Biblically is a multi-camera sitcom from Alcide Bava Productions in association with Warner Bros. Television and CBS Television Studios. The series is created by Patrick Walsh. It's based on the The New York Times bestselling book The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs. Patrick Walsh, Johnny Galecki, Andrew Haas and Spencer Medoff are the executive producers.

In the "Pilot" episode, Chip goes to a confessional booth to talk to a priest (Father Gene). He's a lapsed Catholic who is not there to confess. Chip tells him that he wants to live his life 100% by the Bible to the letter, which causes Father Gene to laugh uncontrollably. In some flashback scenes, Chip tells a long story on how he came to his decision. His best friend of 30 years, Ray, died recently. He talks to Ray's mother, Mrs. Murphy. Chip reviews movies for a newspaper in Manhattan. He talks to his co-workers Gary and Vince. He talks to Ms. Meadows who has fired an employee. His wife, Leslie, drops a bombshell that she is pregnant. He later goes to the bookstore and talks to an employee there named Gracie. A copy of the Bible is in his basket and he receives a sign. He tells Leslie that he wants to live his life according to the Bible until they have their baby. Father Gene gives him his card. Chips wears some new threads to work and brings donuts. Chip later talks to Father Gene and his friend, Rabbi Gil, at a bar. Leslie calls them Chip's answer guys or "God Squad". Chip and Leslie have dinner and the restaurant where they see Gary with his mistress, Josie. Ms. Meadows later offers Chip 3 more articles per week and more money to write about his journey. The episode closes with a scene of Chip remembering his departed friend Ray.

The "Pilot" episode is very good overall. Sitcom veteran Andy Ackerman (Seinfeld, The New Adventures of Old Christine) does a fine job directing. It's fast-paced, funny and enjoyable. They do a good job of introducing the characters in a short amount of time. There's a nice mix of workplace, bar and home comedy. It feels a little bit like The Office, Cheers and How I Met Your Mother. It will be interesting to see these characters further developed in future episodes.

Living Biblically boasts a talented and experienced cast. Jay R. Ferguson was recently in The Real O'Neals and brings plenty of comedy experience. Lindsey Kraft is a relative newcomer compared to the rest of cast, but she has plenty of television credits. The "God Squad", Ian Gomez and David Krumholtz, are both comedy veterans. The workplace group of Tony Rock, Camryn Manheim and Sara Gilbert bring some funny laughs and one-liners. Sara Gilbert is listed as a special guest star, but she has a good-sized role in the first two episodes. Her Roseanne co-star Johnny Galecki is one of the executive producers of the series. JoBeth Williams guest stars as Leslie’s mother, Diana, a scientist who spars with Chip about the power of prayer in an upcoming episode.

Conclusion:

Living Biblically has some good potential. It features a likable and veteran cast. There are many familiar faces to television audiences. This is Lindsey Kraft's first major starring role. She has some good chemistry already with Jay R. Ferguson. They are an appealing couple. It has a good amount of laughs mixed in with some poignant moments. There's a nice blend of workplace, bar and home comedy. I'm not familiar with the book the series is inspired by, but it makes for an interesting premise for a weekly sitcom.

The show should fit in well on CBS' Monday night schedule of multi-camera sitcoms. CBS tried a religion-based comedy with Angel from Hell a few years ago, but it didn't have much success and was cancelled quickly. This one should have more of a chance to catch on because it's a more traditional sitcom filmed in front of a studio audience. There haven't been any really successful religion-themed sitcoms since Amen, so this seems like a fresh and interesting concept. It should be entertaining to follow Chip's journey in future episodes. I'm a believer in Living Biblically. Tune in on Monday nights on CBS at 9:30PM ET/PT.



Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):

Watchability: 3.5/5
Funniness: 3/5
Overall: 3.5/5

Discuss the show after you watch it on Monday, February 26, 2018 at 9:30PM ET/PT on our message board.

Related Links:

  • CBS.com Official Site
  • TV.com
  • epguides.com
  • Internet Movie Database
  • Wikipedia
  • Living Biblically Photo Gallery

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