The pilot episode of a new CBS bowling sitcom is difficult to pin down.
Maybe it can be framed this way: If the premiere episode of this bowling sitcom does not exactly bowl you over, it is not yet time to press the reset button.
This show’s title “How We Roll” reflects the subject of the show’s central storyline, which happens to be bowling and one man’s pursuit of his bowling dreams.
“How We Roll” tells the story of this blue-collar guy named Tom Smallwood, who seeks to use his formidable bowling skills to propel himself into the professional ranks.
The show is based, however loosely, on the story of a real pro bowler also named Tom Smallwood.
In real life, as in the show, Michigan-born Smallwood honed his skills as a bowler for most of his life while working various jobs, marrying and having a child.
And when he was laid off from an assembly-line job in 2008, he made the bold decision to pursue his bowling career rather than take another factory job.
Long story short, after qualifying for the Pro Bowlers Association tour, he became one of the tour’s biggest stars.
This success is still in the future for the fictional Tom Smallwood as the show opens and he is unemployed.
But by golly, the love and support of family and friends see him through this career crisis and help to buoy his spirits as he turns full-time to bowling.
In this way, “How We Roll” relies more on smiles and hugs than one-liners and sight gags.
The cast of “How We Roll” includes Pete Holmes (pictured above) as the bowler and Chi McBride (“The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer”) as a local bowling alley owner who is also Smallwood’s bowling coach.
Other characters include Smallwood’s supportive wife and young son, his widowed mother who happens to live next door and at least two recurring denizens of the bowling alley who occasionally enter scenes, utter non sequiturs and then exit their shots just as quickly.
They are prime-time comedy clichés, along with the demanding, intrusive mother-in-law character who unfortunately deadens every scene in which she appears in the pilot episode.
She barges rudely into her son’s home as frequently as Marie Barone used to do in “Everybody Loves Raymond,” and in the process she is just as dismissive of her son’s wife as Marie was disparaging of Raymond’s wife Debra.
Well, you know what they say about clichés -- avoid them like the plague.
“How We Roll” premieres Thursday (March 31) at 9:30 p.m. Eastern on CBS.