back in the game premiere james caan griffin gluck abc 'Back in the Game': Will the James Caan comedy get another turn at bat?

The simplest way of explaining “Back in the Game,” the new ABC comedy starring Maggie Lawson and James Caan, is to say that it’s a modern-day version of “The Bad News Bears.” Only in this case, the coach is a woman, and the crotchety old man is her father.

Does it work?

For the most part, yes. “Back in the Game” isn’t an ambitious show, but it does accomplish its goal of simple, cheerful comedy about a group of misfits coming together. Good acting — more or less a given with a name like James Caan — and mostly likable characters keep the show going along with just enough laughs to make it all worthwhile.

This is not to say the show is perfect — far from it. In the premiere, plot advancement relies too much on all-too-familiar characters. There’s the effeminate gay kid, the fat kid, et cetera. Even Terry the coach (Lawson) has a standard jock bully to deal with.

But these stereotypes are at least presented with good humor and charm. It’s easy to digest the familiar when presented in a sunny way. Some of the familiar characters are even kind of brilliant. Lulu (Lenora Crichlow), for example, is having way too much fun with her wealthy, divorced and carefree character. Danny (Griffin Gluck) — the baseball-challenged son/grandson — is also surprisingly entertaining to watch.

While passionate, devoted fans are unlikely with a show like this, at least viewers can have an easy and pleasant half hour. “Back in the Game” is not going to change the world. It might, however, be enough to keep viewers from changing the channel.

Posted by:Laurel Brown