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My Life and Times

My Life and Times is an ABC network drama series created by Ron Koslow, which aired from April 24 to May 30, 1991, lasting for one season & 6 episodes.

It was produced by Sea Change Productions and ABC Productions.

Plot

Set in the years 2035 and 2036, the series focused on 85-year-old former journalist Ben Miller.

From his rocking chair at the Briars Retirement Retreat, Ben would recollect on an event from his life which would be dramatized in the episode.

Cast

  • Tom Irwin as Ben Miller
  • Megan Mullally as Susan
  • Helen Hunt as Rebecca Miller
  • Matt McGrath as Robert Miller
  • Harriet Medin as Jessie

Broadcast History

"My Life and Times" premiered on Wednesday, April 24th, 1991, airing from 9:30-10:00 PM after "Doogie Howser, M.D." and followed at 10:00 PM by "Gabriel's Fire."

It also competed with the second half of "Jake and the Fatman" on CBS and the second half-hour of "The 26th Annual Country Music Awards" on NBC.

Tom Shales reported on April 26th that the debut averaged a 10.6/17 Nielsen rating (which was well below the 15.2/25 rating for "Doogie Howser, M.D.")

The show ranked third in its time slot, far behind the 15.7/25 for the 9:30-10:00 PM portion of the awards special on NBC and just behind the 10.7/17 for the second half-hour of "Jake and the Fatman".

For the week, the premiere of "My Life and Times" ranked 45th out of 90 programs on the air.

The following week, the show performed even worse, averaging an 8.5/14 rating and ranking 66th for the week out of 90 programs.

On May 3, 1991, only two days after the second episode aired, ABC pulled the show from its schedule, replacing it with "Anything but Love."

A few days later, on May 9, 1991, ABC announced it would burn off four of those episodes over the course of two weeks, airing two episodes back-to-back from 9:00 to 10:00PM on Thursday, May 23rd and Thursday, May 30th.

Reception

TV critics were for the most part supportive of "My Life and Times."

An early review from Canada’s Toronto Star in February 1991 noted that the series “crams a lot of adventure and romanticized history into its 30-minute segments, and it’s quite mesmerizing as the hero darts back and forth through the canyons of the collective mind."

Tom Shales of The Washington Post felt the half-hour length worked well for the series, suggesting it “may spearhead a new trend in television: the sit-dram.”

He also noted that the show was sometimes corny, sometimes sappy but nevertheless argued, “there’s something refreshing and endearing about ‘Life and Times,’ something genuine and unguarded. It’s passionate and earnest, and hauntingly effective."

USA Today‘s Matt Roush compared the show to "The Wonder Years", only “the nostalgia is for the present and the voice-over narration is never as nagging.” He also compared it to Quantum Leap, only “less contrived.”

Roush called the series “admirably humane and beautifully produced” while also “just a teeny bit full of itself” and urged viewers to find time to watch it.

Dorothy Rabinowitz of The Wall Street Journal praised the series as “highly appealing” with “a script many cuts above the usual.” She appreciated how it depicted its elderly protagonist, writing “the conception (and the way it is carried off) is no small accomplishment, especially in view of prime time’s usually terrified treatment of the aged.” She also pointed out that the premiere had “moments of high silliness."

John J. O’Connor of The New York Times wrote: "Ron Koslow is back in weekly television and romance is not just in the air; it’s under the floorboards and coming out of the heating ducts and oozing from the dialogue. When it comes to old-fashioned and unabashed romance, replete with appropriate music and poetry quotations, Mr. Koslow is clearly incurable. […] Depending on your internal romance barometer, get ready to swoon or scream."

He ended the review by pointing out “ratings aren’t known to be terribly romantic”.

Rick Marin of The Washington Times was critical of Koslow’s romanticism, writing: “My Life and Times” […] is “thirtysomething” seen through the rearview mirror of a seventysomething. Fresh concept. Unfortunately it belongs to executive producer Ron Koslow, the incurable romantic who Harlequinized “Beauty and the Beast” and wrote much bad pseudopoetry for that show’s hairy-but-sensitive manimal. Hence the “Beastysomething” quality of “My Life and Times.” The show’s best moments are the understated ones; the worst come when it yearns to be profound."

Marin called the plot of the pilot episode “one of those life-threatening, value-re-evaluating watershed moments,” while conceding that later episodes would be “more modestly plotted” than the pilot, aiming for “small epiphanies rather than big ones."

Howard Rosenberg of The Los Angeles Times was also less than impressed with the series, arguing it was full of possibilities that simply weren’t realized in any of the episodes available for preview. Instead, the series “reeks of righteousness, heavy sentiment and predictable endings.”

He concluded that the show was “an interesting idea, yet one whose initial thickness even an earthquake can’t shake up."

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