"I can't say that I've seen everything but I've seen a lot. I've seen footsteps on the moon and seen myself stumble. I've seen fear and did my darndest not to be afraid. I've survived the nineties and braved the millennium. I've loved and lost and learned to love again. And I've learned that life is an adventure. You have to hold on and let it carry you away. I've let it carry me to the year 2035 and I'm here to tell the tale. I'm Ben Miller and this is my life and times."
Sometimes you can have just the right cast and crew and ultimately the viewers just don't tune in to watch. That was certainly the case with the short-lived ABC half-hour dramedy "My Life And Times."
On paper the series couldn't have a better pedigree. It was created by Ron Koslow, who was just coming off the success of the drama "Beauty And The Beast." This series had a lot of the same elements. A wistful kind of romantic mood combined with incredibly sharp storytelling. "My Life And Times" also boasted a strong cast. A pre-"My So-Called Life" Tom Irwin played the lead role, with a pre-"Mad About You" Helen Hunt playing his wife. Film director Michael Apted directed the pilot and each one of the six episodes played out like a finely made movie.
But "My Life And Times" had some things going against it. Some viewers seemed to be confused by the premise of the show, thinking it was more of science fiction series than it turned out to be. Irwin played 85-year-old Ben Miller, and when viewers first meet him, it's 2035 and he's living in a retirement home.
Each episode opened with the narration at the top and they centered on Miller's reflections about the past, with the focus more on his personal life than any overarching historical events. The best episode of the series might be "Jesse," which featured guest star Claudia Christian. As a younger man, Miller had seen her walking down the street and they end up having a one-night stand. They never see each other again although he thinks about her and that night the rest of his life. He ultimately sees her in the nursing home and he discovers the bittersweet truth about her life and why they never reconnected.
The other challenge the show had was its format and timeslot. Most TV dramas are an hour, and the 30-minute format of the show was no doubt a bit confusing. It didn't help matters that the show was programmed as part of a two-hour block of comedies that included "The Wonder Years," "Perfect Strangers" and "Doogie Howser. M.D."
But if the viewers failed to tune in, it was their loss. Each episode is warm and real and bittersweet. Irwin does a great job both as the 85-year-old Miller and as his earlier incarnations. Helen Hunt is radiant and you can see the talent that will help make her a success in other projects. Megan Mullally also shows up in a couple of the episodes.
The result is six perfect episodes and in a just world, "My Life And Times" would have been a success. But it turned out just to be one of the best TV Shows you've never seen.
Check out what you missed below, with all six episodes available thanks to YouTube.