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Molly (Melissa McCarthy) goes on a journey this season to find her path, alongside Mike (Billy Gardell).
TV Review

The ‘new’ path of CBS’ sitcom ‘Mike and Molly’

That didn’t take long: After just two episodes, CBS recently canceled the terrible comedy “We Are Men,” and this coming week “Mike & Molly” (9 p.m. Monday) returns to the air starring Billy Gardell and Melissa McCarthy (“Bridesmaids”).

In an interview this summer, executive producer Chuck Lorre said he and his colleagues are “rebirthing” the series for the new season. This explains the promos that refer to the show as “the new ‘Mike & Molly.’ “

“It’s just changing the tone of the show,” Lorre said. “There’s a tonal quality of the show we want to address, and clearly I think the show needs to take more advantage of the enormous talent of Melissa McCarthy. That’s an obvious thing that has to be addressed going forward. She’s the biggest comedy star in the world right now and the series has to reflect that.”

That’s evident in the title of Monday’s season premiere, “Molly Unleashed.”

The episode begins with Molly in her classroom handing out a test that she says will determine her students’ futures while ruminating on her own lot in life – living in her mom’s basement, “suffocating under a mountain of debt” – despite scoring well on such a test when she was a child.

“Some mornings I wake up and think, ‘Why are you even getting out of bed?’ ” Molly says. “A bed I’m still making payments on, by the way.”

Then, after telling her students to “follow their dreams,” she falls out the classroom window. The reset begins with a more active Molly who more closely resembles the characters McCarthy has played in her hit movies, “Bridesmaids” and “The Heat.”

At the end of the half-hour, Molly is still in search of herself and what she wants to do with her life vocationally. This will be a theme for the season: Molly trying to find herself and make a go of it in the new profession she chooses.

In the following week’s episode she goes on a ride-along with Mike in his police car to do research for the book she decides to write.

Putting the show’s focus squarely on Molly and her career aspirations gives “Mike & Molly” a story engine beyond the relationship between the two title characters. Whether this is a path viewers will want to journey along with Mike and Molly remains to be seen.