8-9PM · CBS · Debuts Sept. 22
Sam Briggs means well. When he promised to meet his fiancée for an important get-together at her parents' home, he never expected a drunken colleague would vomit all over his clothes and force him to show up in a makeshift diaper. But then, bizarre and unfortunate things always seem to happen whenever Sam's around his future in-laws. While CBS' new single- camera comedy sounds a lot like Ben Stiller's Meet the Parents, exec producer Matt Tarses insists, ''It's not that different from Everybody Loves Raymond. Sam's really trying to do the right thing and make these people love him. All his mistakes come from a really good place.''
Adapted from a British series, Week stars character actor Kyle Bornheimer (a.k.a. the guy from those hilarious T-Mobile ''leaving a message'' ads) as the calamity-prone lout who, having gotten his girlfriend Mel (The Winner's Erinn Hayes) pregnant, desperately tries to impress her ultra-protective parents, Dick and Angela Clayton (Kurtwood Smith and Nancy Lenehan). But in his quest to do something right each week, he ends up doing something horribly wrong, like flooding his future in-laws' swanky house. ''The show's got a French-farce feel to it,'' says Smith, who honed his intimidating glare as Red on That '70s Show. ''There's a wonderful moment when my other daughter arrives with her kids and there is this incident with my birds. Once you get to know Sam, you know my birds are not long for this world.''
Sam does everything wrong with such magnitude, it's hard to imagine the writers maintaining the premise for an entire season, much less several years. But that's the plan. ''I've never felt this was going to be a hard thing to sustain,'' explains Tarses. ''Sam's problems are universal. We all organize our lives around events. Things are always happening either leading up to them or coming out of them. The trick for us is to make sure viewers don't see it coming, that it unfolds in a surprising way.''
But unfortunately for Bornheimer, it's not always going to unfold in a pain-free way. While shooting one memorable moment involving a tureen of urine (don't ask), he learned firsthand that it's not so easy doing physical comedy. ''I was running with this pot and got so excited that I didn't think about the logistics and took a colossal fall,'' recalls Bornheimer. ''Everybody was quiet for five seconds, but I thought it was the funniest thing in the world. It only happens to the new guy.''