It's not often that a show gets booted off a network, disappears for more than a year, and then re-launches on a new network, with the entire cast in tact to boot.
Yet that's the journey "The Game" (BET, 10 tonight) has taken, and so consider this premiere a cause for celebration for all fans who've had a favorite show dropped without satisfying resolution.
If you're not familiar with the show, it chronicles the life and times of the players of a San Diego pro football team, The Sabres, and their families and hangers-on. It's billed as a half-hour comedy, but it's better described as a dramedy. There are comic moments for sure, but "The Game" isn't afraid to tackle serious/timely issues like gay athletes, interracial relationships, workplace sexism and politics. Characters have layers, revealing devastating truths and the ramifications don't end with the episode. While not always laugh-out-loud funny, it's always lift-your-eyebrow interesting.
The new season picks up two years later. Derwin (Pooch Hall) and Melanie (Tia Mowry) are married; Derwin is now the star player on the Sabres, helped by the services of Tasha Mack (Wendy Raquel Robinson). Tasha's son, quarterback Malik (Hosea Chanchez), still has a big ego and a big mouth, and as usual he's engaged in an illicit affair with a beautiful woman (Meghan Good). Kelly (Brittany Daniel) and Jason (Coby Bell, now on "Burn Notice) are divorced, and a still bitter Kelly is making a reality show about ex-wives of athletes. Jason is commentating, sitting out to make a point to Sabers' management.
The primary thread in the first special hour-long episode is whether Melanie is really OK with Derwin's baby, born just before they were married to a former flame. The writers have come up with an interesting way to explore Melanie's psyche.
Let "The Game" begin!
Afterward, at 11, BET offers a completely new half-hour sitcom produced, in part, by Queen Latifah, called "Let's Stay Together." (Yes, the Al Green song is the theme.)
The show tells the story of five people, two couples (one engaged, the other married) and a sister of one of the women, and the ins and outs of their romances.
It isn't a bad show, just sort of conventional, silly --- think of it as "Living Single" meets "For Your Love." If 11 p.m. is past your bedtime, don't bother staying up. DVR or catch it on a rerun.