Patricia Heaton isn’t wagering on another series run that lasts almost a decade, but she’s hopeful.
After spending nine seasons each on “Everybody Loves Raymond” (for which she won two Emmy Awards) and “The Middle,” the actress tests the sitcom waters anew as CBS’ “Carol’s Second Act” premieres Thursday. Heaton stars as a divorced mom and retired teacher who seeks her “second act” as a medical intern, imparting life lessons to much-younger peers — and also, on occasion, to an experienced doctor (Kyle MacLachlan) who’s mildly perplexed to have Carol under his wing.
Also an executive producer of the new show, along with her husband David Hunt and series creators Emily Halpern and Sarah Haskins (“Trophy Wife”), Heaton reported that “this came after ‘The Middle’ was all done. I think what was perfect about it was that my kids are pretty much out of the house, and my second long-running show was done, and I was feeling a bit at sea not knowing what I was doing. I’m no longer a full-time mom, and I didn’t have a job as an actress, and I very much felt the things that a person like Carol would feel.
“It’s been interesting to go on this journey with everyone and with Carol and explore that,” Heaton said. “I think it’s important, at any time in your life, to keep challenging yourself. I think it’s a good sign that I’m excited about this. It’s very exciting to go back to multi-camera, too (as ‘Raymond’ was), and do it live in front of an audience.”
Also featuring Ashley Tisdale as Carol’s daughter and Jean-Luc Bilodeau (“Baby Daddy”) as another intern, “Carol’s Second Act” is described by co-creator Halpern as “that fantasy of the road not taken, the path not followed. We thought, ‘What character would we most like to tell this story through?,’ and we loved the idea of an older woman … somebody at a time in her life where she might traditionally be expected to retreat or to become less visible. And we thought, ‘Let’s put her center stage and put her in an environment where her age is actually her strength.’ ”
Adds Haskins, the stepdaughter-in-law of the iconic Julie Andrews, “As Carol brings her expertise and her experience and her talent to the hospital universe, Patty (Heaton) has brought her experience and her comedy to us and has inhabited this character and brought her to life in ways that have been so delightful to see. And it was just magical on the pilot, the first day we shot, to see Patty come out and read our lines and make them much funnier than they were before. Which was the intention.”