WHEN|WHERE Premieres Sunday at 8:30 p.m. on Fox/5
WHAT IT'S ABOUT Colleen has died from breast cancer, shocking her three best friends — Long Islanders all — into action. They now must change their lives, but how? Amy (Eliza Coupe, "Happy Endings") is a producer of a cooking show who decides to actually spend time with her children. Jodie (Ginnifer Goodwin, "Once Upon a Time") wants to lose weight so she can fit in her skinny jeans, and get more personal attention from her personal trainer, Matt (JT Neal, "Bless this Mess"). Sarah (Maggie Q, "Nikita") is recently divorced from her wife, and quits the hospital where she has worked as an ER doc to bag groceries at a local supermarket.
This Long Island-set sitcom comes from veteran producer Liz Astrof — "Two Broke Girls," "The King of Queens" — who is from Seaford and lived for a time in Massapequa Park.
MY SAY "Pivoting" takes place on Long Island but exactly where on Long Island? Sunrise Highway is name-checked in the second episode, but that's hardly helpful. A snapshot of a water tower labeled "Long Island, New York" arrives in the first, but the words "Long Island" and "New York" haven't been conjoined colloquially like that since the 1940s or maybe "The Great Gatsby." And why not just a real name on the water tower? Hicksville, Levittown, Hempstead, Freeport, Mineola? They all have nice water towers. Then, while some of the characters are driving down some unnamed Long Island, New York, street, palm trees occasionally float into view. Those don't grow (well) on Long Island. There are mountains in the distance too in an early tracking shot. Those don't grow here either.
Therefore, after careful forensic visual analysis, one must be forced to conclude that "Pivoting" doesn't really take place on Long Island at all — but more likely off West Verdugo Avenue in Burbank. Why this should matter seems self-evident. "Emily in Paris' ' (or parts of it) takes place in the real Paris and "Yellowstone' ' (parts of it) not far from the real Yellowstone. Real places matter on TV and in the movies. They're characters in their own right, with motives and foibles, back story and conflict. Places add, never subtract, and enrich, never dilute.
A shame because "Pivoting" could have used some adding and enriching. There's a borderline good idea here that can't quite push itself across the border into good. What if three Long Island pals really were so catalyzed by the death of a close friend that they completely remodeled their lives, or failing that, at least their maternal skills? The backdrop is a national trauma which is never named but doesn't have to be. Like so many current sitcoms or dramas, this is set in a COVID-free alt-reality where the pall of loss still permeates, like a fog that refuses to lift.
Upbeat, chipper "Pivoting" wants to pivot around all that. Colleen is gone and largely forgotten just after the opening credits. The third episode does in fact open with an amusing scene — the three friends gather in a cemetery to celebrate their departed friend but gather at the wrong gravestone — yet poor Colleen never even arrives in flashback. If we could get to know her, we might get to know them better.
As it stands, we never get to know them at all. They're stick figures played by three skillful performers who aren't given nearly enough good material to flesh those figures out. Like that fake LI setting, their grief feels fake too and so does their lifehack. Death has long been a part of sitcom life — usually reserved for "Very Special Episodes" — but here it's just another wasted opportunity.
BOTTOM LINE Good cast but fake LI setting for a bland sitcom stew.