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Help Me Help You

TITLE: HELP ME HELP YOU - ABC FALL 2006


Info:

Premiere Date: Tuesday, September 26, 2006 (Regency Television)
Network: ABC
Time: Tuesdays at 9:30 p.m. et/pt
Cast: Starring Ted Danson, Charlie Finn, Jim Rash, Suzy Nakamura, Darlene Hunt and Jere Burns as Michael.
Special Guest Star: Jane Kaczmarek


Introduction:

Ted Danson ("Cheers," "Becker") stars in this comedy series about a collection of eccentric individuals in group therapy with a respected therapist -- who may quite possibly have more problems than his patients.

Dr. Bill Hoffman (Danson) is a brilliant therapist with a lucrative practice and the author of several definitive psychotherapy texts. He is an icon among his fellow therapists. But his over-inflated ego is dealt a blow when he is forced to come to grips with the end of his 25-year marriage to wife Anne (guest star Jane Kaczmarek, "Malcolm in the Middle"). Bill is also forced to deal with the news that his daughter is dating her psychology professor -- a man old enough to be her father and who also happens to idolize him. Things are changing too fast, and Bill is struggling to keep up.

When it comes to the group patients, Bill also has his work cut out for him: The newest group member, Dave (Charlie Finn, the film "The Dukes of Hazzard"), recently attempted suicide by jumping out of his office window -- and landing on his boss; Jonathan (Jim Rash, "Sky High") is a self-avowed metro-sexual who is in serious denial that he might possibly be gay; Inger (Suzy Nakamura, "Dodgeball") is a 25-year-old, self-made millionaire who totally lacks social skills and hasn't had a real date in over six years; Darlene (Darlene Hunt, "I Heart Huckabees") has too many psychological issues to count, including her obsession with Dr. Hoffman; and Michael (Jere Burns, "Good Morning Miami," "Dear John") has anger issues at work, which is what led him into mandatory group therapy.

The group will try to apply Bill's advice to their lives out in the world, while Bill tries to figure out his own life problems.


Cast Details:

Ted Danson as Dr. Bill Hoffman, Charlie Finn as Dave, Jim Rash as Jonathan, Suzy Nakamura as Inger, Darlene Hunt as Darlene, Jere Burns as Michael.
Special Guest Star: Jane Kaczmarek as Anne.

Ted Danson's (Dr. Bill Hoffman, therapist) versatility in both television and film makes him one of the most accomplished and credible actors today. From his feature film debuts in Joseph Wambaugh's "The Onion Field" in 1979 and Lawrence Kasdan's "Body Heat" in 1981 to his starring role in the television series "Cheers," Danson has captivated worldwide audiences with his equally sensational dramatic and comedic performances. Danson charmed television audiences worldwide with his portrayal of the tall, dark and handsome Sam Malone, a role he played for 11 seasons on the hit comedy series "Cheers." The role earned him the Golden Globe in 1990 and 1991, the Emmy Award in 1990 and 1993, as well as several additional Emmy nominations. He made his return to network television in 1998 in the series "Becker," for which he received a Golden Globe nomination in 2001. The show ran for six years.

Charlie Finn's (Dave, suicidal) television credits include recurring roles on "Andy Richter Controls the Universe" and "Dag," series regular roles on "Life on a Stick" and "Deep Cover," and guest starring roles on "Sports Night"and "Judging Amy." His film credits include "The Dukes of Hazzard," "The In Crowd" and "Super Troopers." He was also featured in the independent films "The Year That Trembled," "Rolling Kansas" and "Southern Cross."

Jim Rash (Jonathan, gay denial) has long had a home on the small screen, with recurring roles on "That '70s Show" and "Reno 911!," as well as guest starring roles on "Will & Grace," "Less than Perfect," "According to Jim," "The Practice," "Becker," "CSI" and "Navy NCIS." He has also co-starred on "Cybill" and "Tracey Takes On," and was a series regular on "Thanks," "Katie Joplin" and "The Naked Truth." Big screen credits include "Sky High," "Minority Report," "Simone," "Slackers," "One Hour Photo" and "Auto Motives." His two most recent films, "Smiley Face" and "Reno 911!: The Movie," are due to be released in 2007. Heather Goldenhersh's television credits include roles in the movies "The Great Gatsby" and "Tempting Adam" and appearances on "Sex and the City," "Law & Order: Criminal Intent," and "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit." Her feature film credits include "Nicholas Nickleby," "The School of Rock," "The Merchant of Venice," "Kinsey," and the upcoming "The Pleasure of Your Company."

Suzy Nakamura (Inger, social issues) has had recurring roles on "The West Wing" and "Curb Your Enthusiasm." Her other TV credits include regular roles on "The Closer," opposite Tom Selleck, and "Daddio," with Michael Chiklis, as well as guest appearances on "The King of Queens," "8 Simple Rules" and "According to Jim." Her film credits include "Dodgeball," "Stark Raving Mad," "Timecode," "Must Love Dogs" and the award-winning independent films "Strawberry Fields" (Venice Int'l Film Festival), "Treasure Island" (Sundance Special Jury Prize) and "Barrier Device" (Student Academy Award). She will soon be seen in "For Your Consideration," directed by Christopher Guest.

Darlene Hunt (Darlene, too many problems) starred with Sean Hayes in "Platonically Incorrect," a play which she also wrote, that ran in Los Angeles and New York and was later developed into a network pilot. She has written six pilots for various networks, including ABC, NBC and The WB. Other writing credits include an episode of "Will & Grace," in which she also guest starred. On the big screen she played opposite Jude Law and Lily Tomlin in David O. Russell's film, "I Heart Huckabees." Other film credits include "3001," directed and written by Mike Judge, and "The Darwin Awards," starring Winona Ryder.

Jere Burns (Michael, anger issues) is best known for his role as Kirk on the comedy series "Dear John." He also starred on "Good Morning Miami" and "Something So Right," had recurring roles on "Max Headroom" and "All of Us," and guest starred on "Boston Legal," "Will & Grace," "Las Vegas," "Touched By an Angel" and "Just Shoot Me," among many others. In addition he starred in the telefilms "Life-Size," "Road Rage," "The Secret She Carried," "Eye of the Stalker," "Perry Mason: The Case of the Defiant Daughter," "Turn Back the Clock" and in the miniseries "The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw." On the big screen Burns has appeared in "My Giant," "Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles," "Greedy," "Wired," "Touch and Go" and "Let's Get Harry."

Jane Kaczmarek (Anne, estranged wife of Bill) took the television world by storm with her hilarious portrayal of Lois, the no-nonsense mom on "Malcolm in the Middle." Embraced by critics and viewers alike, she was nominated for an Emmy Award for Lead Actress in a Comedy Series six years in a row. She was also honored with an American Comedy Award and a Family Friendly Award for her role, received three Golden Globe nominations for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series, Comedy or Musical, and subsequently garnered her second consecutive award for Individual Achievement in a Comedy by the Television Critics Association. She was also nominated for Best Actress, Quality Comedy, by the Viewers for Quality Television. She was a series regular on "Equal Justice," "Hometown," "Big Wave Dave" and "Paper Chase: The Second Year." Additional credits include recurring roles on "Felicity," "Party of Five," "Frasier," "The Practice," "Cybill" and "Hill Street Blues," and guest starring roles on such series as "Touched By An Angel," "Picket Fences," "L.A. Law" and "Hollywood Division." In addition she starred in the made-for-television movies "Jenifer," "Apollo 11," "Educating Mom," "The Deception," "Boys Will Be Boys," "I'll Take Manhattan," "Something About Amelia," "The Christmas Story" and "The Three Kings." Kaczmarek's feature film credits include "Pleasantville," "The Chamber," "Vice Versa," "Uncommon Valor," "D.O.A.," "The Heavenly Kid" and "Falling in Love," as well as the independent films "The Spittin' Image" and "Wildly Available."


Pilot Plot:

Episode #1 "Pilot"
Tuesday, September 26, 9:30 PM ET/PT

Bill assigns the group to go out and make connections with other people. Dave tries to make a connection with a woman in his office that he has a crush on, Jonathan tries to make friends with a local coffee house barista, Inger tries her hand at internet dating, and Darlene spends time with a new man she just met... who just happens to be fellow group member Michael. Meanwhile Bill discovers that Anne is in a relationship with the guy who sold him his car and that his daughter is dating her psychology professor - a man old enough to be her father.

Guest Starring: Jane Kaczmarek as Anne, Lindsay Sloane as Sasha, Steve Bannos as Dave's boss, Kathleen Rose Perkins as Jonathan's wife, Bruce Altman as Professor Ira Morton, Michael Cotter as j-date, Lou George as therapist, Parvesh Cheena as Parvesh, Meredith Roberts as Francesca, Artemis Pebdani as office worker no. 1, Sharon Brathwaite as office worker no. 2, Thomas F. Wilson as Kenny, Mykel Shannon Jenkins as Shannon (coffee guy), Blaine Vedros as waiter, Majandra Delfino as Lucy and Sunil Malhotra as tow truck guy.

We also received an additional episode for review. It will be the third episode to air and will air on Tuesday, October 10. The episode is:

Episode #3 - "Sasha's Birthday BBQ "
Tuesday, October 10, 9:30 PM ET/PT

Bill's rule of the week is for everyone to nurture their relationships. However, in trying to nurture his relationship with daughter Sasha, Bill finds himself competing with estranged wife Anne's (Jane Kaczmarek) boyfriend, Kenny, for Sasha's affection at her birthday party; Meanwhile Inger's rendezvous with an internet date goes south after she inadvertently insults him; Jonathan neglects to tell his wife that he has plans to go out with his male coffee barista friend to a Knicks game; and Darlene and Michael take a stab at nurturing their relationship but end up in an argument over the relevance of Tom Hanks.

Guest Starring: Jane Kaczmarek as Anne, Lindsay Sloane as Sasha, Kathleen Rose Perkins as Jonathan's wife, Bruce Altman as Professor Ira Morton, Michael Cotter as j-date, Thomas F. Wilson as Kenny and Mykel Shannon Jenkins as Shannon (coffee guy). Rest TBD.


Analysis:

I think this show is pretty funny! The jokes are fast-paced and it is very entertaining to watch. I guess single-camera comedies are the future of sitcoms. Danson is very good in this role and his patients are very funny. Danson is also great with Kaczmarek. She is labeled in the cast during the opening credits, but is listed as a guest star in press packets. I hope she is in most episodes because she is very good here. The pilot is very enjoyable and I think it will click with viewers. It sets up the show very well and what to expect in future episodes.

We also got a copy of the third episode that will air. It looks like this episode was made second but will air third, because it seems to leave off where the pilot left off. Danson’s character is jealous of Kenny, his ex-wife’s boyfriend. The third episode is just as good as the pilot, if not better. You get to know and like the characters a lot, even if they are crazy. Darlene and Michael get into a debate about Tom Hanks...with a mention of Bosom Buddies even! Jonathan can be annoying though. He acts gay, and he is gay, but he denies it. He has wife even and he seems to be in love with the coffee guy, who is not gay, but he sure does look it. Funny stuff indeed!


Conclusion:

This is a very enjoyable show. I think viewers will tune in this Tuesday. There are not many sitcoms debuting this fall, but this is one of the few that I think will click. The others that I think will stick are Knights of Prosperity, The Class and 30 Rock. 3 of the 4 that I think will click are single-camera sitcoms. They need to have Kaczmarek in a lot of episodes. She seems to be on board for 6 of the 13 ordered so far. I’m not positive, though. She is for sure in episodes 1 and 3, and looking at the press packet, she is not listed for episode 2 airing on Oct. 3. She was very good in the pilot and decent in episode three, too. Danson could be nominated for an Emmy for this one. He is trying to break the window of his car in the pilot with a golf club is so hilarious. He also does a nice fall in the 3rd episode during the BBQ that comes out of no where.

As for ratings, the pilot will certainly be sampled. It is following a special 90-minute episode of the mega-hit Dancing with the Stars. Danson was in the audience for last week’s episode to promote the show, so that might help. The second episode will also have ‘Stars’ as its lead-in. I think the show will last in the ratings and the quality is certainly there. So, this Tuesday, give Danson a try in Help Me Help You at 9:30 p.m. ET/PT on ABC!


Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):

Watchability: 4.5/5
Funniness: 4/5
Overall: 4/5

-- Reviewed by pavanbadal on 09/24/06

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