Anyone looking for funny and poignant television should not miss Billy Crystal’s 700 Sundays, which is currently playing on several of the HBO channels. 700 Sundays is a televised version of Crystal’s Tony Award-winning, one-man play, performed on a Broadway stage in front of a facade of his family’s house on Long Island. Crystal masterfully re-creates the sights and sounds of growing up in an eccentric Jewish family of showbiz uncles and phlegmy grandparents. It was an environment where young Billy developed his comedic chops by doing standup routines for relatives in the living room.
The title refers to the 700 or so Sundays Crystal enjoyed with his hard-working, record store-owning father before he passed away suddenly when Billy was 15. Crystal artfully renders his love his father and the shock and confusion he felt with his passing. He also moves with breakneck speed through autobiographical episodes that include an absurdly unsuccessful high school basketball career and achieving success working New York comedy clubs at night while caring for his newborn daughter during the day. It is a tour de force performance that naturally is sentimental at times but never becomes maudlin. Highly recommended.