Scott D. Pierce: ‘Mom’ is the fall’s best new sitcom

First Published      Last Updated Oct 17 2013 09:57 am

Four weeks into the 2013-14 TV season, I've changed my mind about which is the best new comedy of the fall season.

"Trophy Wife" and "The Crazy Ones" are good shows. But the most fun is "Mom" (Mondays, 8:30 p.m., CBS/Ch. 2).

This tale of recovering alcoholic Christy (Anna Faris); her recovering addict mother, Bonnie (Allison Janney); and Christy's pregnant teenage daughter, Violet (Sadie Calvano), is hilarious.

Faris and Janney have that all-important, intangible chemistry that can make an exchange like this work:

Christy: "I've watched you lick cocaine crumbs out of a shag carpet."

Bonnie: "It's not a sin to be thrifty, dear."

This is the latest project from uber sitcom producer Chuck Lorre, who has four shows on CBS — "Mom," "The Big Bang Theory," "Two and a Half Men" and "Mike & Molly" (which returns Nov. 4).

His latest sitcom "sprang from a desire on my part to finish something that I tried on a couple of occasions and failed to do successfully," Lorre said, "which is to tell a story about a woman starting her life over again and redemption and all those really funny premises."

Lorre paid his dues. He spent a couple of years as a producer of "Roseanne" when that show's star was at the height of her power and the height of her crazy. And he created two other hit shows before being forced out by, um, creative differences with their stars. Shows that were precursors to "Mom."

"I tried it many years ago on 'Grace Under Fire,' and I left that show after a year because, well, just because," Lorre deadpanned to a room full of TV critics who knew all about the real-life addiction/behavior problems of "Grace" star Brett Butler. "I tried it again with 'Cybill,' and … moving on."

Yes, Cybill Shepherd had a reputation for being, um, difficult.

And "Mom" is "very meaningful to me because it's about starting your life over again, repairing the damage you've done," said Lorre, who had his own struggles with addiction.

It wasn't easy. Lorre said he and executive producer Eddie Gorodetsky spent "about two months failing miserably" before Gorodetsky suggested that Gemma Baker (a "Two and a Half Men" writer) join them. "She saved us," Lorre said, in about half an hour.

Her idea: "Put [Christy's] disasters behind her," Lorre said. "And by doing that, it was — aaaah. Angels were singing. The clouds parted."

Christy is a mess, but she's a recovering mess.

"Because she's trying to get better, we can forgive her a lot of her past," Baker said. "And I think Anna is so lovable, so it's really easy to root for her."

And laugh with her. Because "Mom" is a very funny show.

Scott D. Pierce covers television for The Salt Lake Tribune. Email him at spierce@sltrib.com; follow him on Twitter @ScottDPierce.