THE SUCCESS of CBS’ new comedy “Worst Week” may largely rise or fall on viewers laughing at the main character of Sam Briggs, who is subjected each week to a torrent of comedic catastrophes. To that end, Kyle Bornheimer, who plays the well-intentioned but bumbling schmo, has diligently been working on his rises and falls -- and pratfalls.
In “Worst Week” (which premieres Sept. 22), Briggs stays relentlessly positive even though he’s a walking disaster area, accidentally wreaking havoc wherever he goes. Supporting him -- while trying to stay out of his way -- is his girlfriend Melanie (Erinn Hayes), who is reluctant to tell her conservative parents (Nancy Lenehan and Kurtwood Smith from “That 70s Show”) that they are getting married, with a baby already on the way.
“He’s really not a neurotic guy,” said Bornheimer, who regards his character as a fearlessly optimistic force of nature. “He just hasn’t mastered life yet -- and neither have I. He falters, but he gets back on the horse so eagerly.”
Based on a British show “The Worst Week of My Life,” the new CBS comedy is a rarity these days for a network television comedy -- a program that relies heavily on slapstick and physical mayhem. Let’s just say that Bornheimer and his stunt man have been busy -- and lucky.
“I’ve gotten some nips from animals,” he said. “It’s very safe on the set, there are lots of safety precautions.”
But, he quipped, “If I’m ever injured, I hope it’s in the shot.”
CBS executives hope the show will resonate with viewers who enjoy broad physical comedy and who may not have even noticed its relative absence. CBS is clearly high on the comedy, awarding it a plum time slot -- Mondays at 9:30 p.m. following the popular “Two and a Half Men.”
“When we first saw the script, it was the boldness of the comedy that drew us,” said Wendy Trilling, CBS’ executive vice president of comedy development. “It felt like it’s the kind of show that is not on the air right now.”
Added series creator Matt Tarses: “It’s really something that the landscape needs, but as even big as those comic moments are, it all takes place in a real world. It won’t feel like a cartoon.”
Still, the series does have its challenges. First, the writers have to dream up a steady stream of Murphy’s Law-like comic events with each episode outdoing or at least matching its predecessors. Then, with Briggs constantly landing into trouble each week, he must somehow remain sympathetic.
“That’s going to be the big trick -- making him lovable enough,” said Tarses. “There’s a real line between bad luck and bad choices. But that’s what great about Kyle -- he had a different take on the character than other actors who tried out. The way Kyle plays Brad, he never feels sorry for himself, he never acknowledges that he’s cursed.”