Six and a half million viewers tuned in to the premiere of "Back in the Game" to watch single mom Terry Gannon (Maggie Lawson) spar with her legendarily old-fashioned dad, Terry "the Cannon" Gannon Sr. The show's second episode was down 18 percent from its series premiere, losing a little more than a million viewers from its lead-in, "The Middle." On a happier note, there's nothing like a warm review from the New York Times to help Gamers keep the faith.
Fans are already showing their support: "Lindy" praised "Game" on Deadline for being "surprisingly great ... James Caan and Maggie Lawson have great family chemistry — hope this builds." We do too. The next episode, "Play Hard or Go Home" — which is Lawson's favorite thus far — is a great time to meet the Gannons. Terry decides that her dad would be better off (as in less moody and demanding) if he had a girlfriend. And, as you might expect, the Cannon is none too pleased.
We talked to Louisville, Kentucky, native Lawson about her new show, her old show "Psych," and her superfun plan to bring her two TV families together. Yet another reason to hope that "Game" stays, well, in the game.
"Psych" has been on for eight years, and "Back in the Game" has barely been on for eight minutes. What's it like going from a well-oiled machine to a brand-new one?
We were a family on "Psych." It definitely was a transition, but with this group, we were like a family, from the pilot. We were all pretty much in sync with each other, so luckily it was a pretty smooth transition because everybody worked. And Caan and the Cullens [writers Mark Cullen and Robb Cullen] have been around forever, and they kind of set the tone. So it kind of felt like a machine even going in. There was a shorthand by the end of the pilot, and it was easy. I'm still grateful for that because it is nerve-racking coming off of a show where you've established relationships for eight years. But to be honest, it felt really natural, which was great.
Is there anyone in your new show family who's really not comfortable on the field?
What's kind of funny about that is Griffin, who plays my son, he's never played baseball before. And it was really kind of beautiful to watch him and James Caan on the pilot. James really taught him how to play. He was sort of the person. So it wasn't so strange to see Danny running away from the ball and not knowing what to do in the pilot. His character is growing as a little ballplayer, and he is too, and it's pretty neat to watch.
Was it scary to go into work and just start mouthing off at James Caan, who is so ... James Caan?
It's funny, you know, I first met him in my test audition, and I have to tell you from the time we started talking we were already goofing around and he was so nice. He sort of disarmed the situation right away because those auditions can be kind of nerve-racking. We sort of instantly had a father-daughter back and forth that was really kind of silly and nice, and I had an idea that he was gonna be this kind of goofball, and he totally is.
You've had great TV dads. First William Shatner and Jeffrey Tambor on "Psych" and now James Caan. Who's the most surprising?
They're all very different. They're all icons, and I was a little starstruck to meet each of them. William Shatner just reeks of cool. And Tambor is just a goof, and Caan is a mix of all of them. He's a little tougher. There's like a scrappier quality about Caan that's really fun. I feel so blessed. I sometimes have to pinch myself. This is my life?
And how about your real-life boyfriend ("Psych" co-star James Roday) coming on to play a prospective boyfriend for Terry?
I honestly think it would be cool if the whole cast of "Psych" could get on. We would be so, so lucky. I look out for what upcoming guest stars are coming up. I'm like, "Ooh, Kim could do that!" So hopefully at some point everybody will get a shot.
LuLu (Lenora Crichlow) is terrific. Did you two click right away?
Yes. We went completely off-book in our audition together. I don't know if we said one word that was on the page because we clicked immediately. She's awesome. I love her so much. She's a beautiful human being in real life as well. We've actually become real close. That dynamic, that was there as we shook hands. You have issues. I love you.
It's smart of the show to not be all about typical soccer moms.
I think we're both sort of aliens to each other in our own way. I look at Lulu and I'm like, "What are you?" And she looks at me and she's just, "What are you?" Because of that, we've got this team of misfits, and we're misfits in our own way. So we've all kind of found each other. There's relief in that. We appreciate how different and strange and quirky the other one is.
"Back in the Game" airs Wednesdays at 8:30 p.m. on ABC.
- Arts & Entertainment
- James Caan
- Maggie Lawson
- Terry Gannon