Carol's Second Act debuted on CBS Thursday night, bringing Patricia Heaton back to television after a year off. The new sitcom is Heaton's first since ABC's The Middle ended in May 2018. This time, Heaton stars as a divorcee who quit her first job as a teacher to become a doctor. In her first big scene on the show, Heaton got a standing ovation from the studio audience and fans at home.
The show's humor comes from the generational divide between Heaton's Carol Kenney and her fellow interns at the hospital, Daniel Kutcher (Jean-Luc Bilodeau), Lexie Gilani (Sabrina Jalees) and Caleb Summers (Lucas Neff). The quartet works under Dr. Maya Jacobs (Ito Aghayere), the Chief Resident. There is also Dr. Stephen Frost, played by Kyle MacLachlan, and Carol's daughter, Jenny, played by Ashley Tisdale.
When Heaton made her first appearance in the pilot, she got a big round of applause. Fans at home were just as excited to see her back, too.
"It's great. I remember many years on Raymond, watching [Ray Romano] come out and do the intro to the audience," Heaton said at the Television Critics Association Press Tour, reports E! News. "And then I did a short-lived show with Kelsey Grammer called Back to You, and Kelsey would be the one coming out and sort of welcoming the audience."
She continued, "It's actually—I'm a little embarrassed to say it's thrilling to be that person to do that, because we really are trying to create something that we really want everyone to love, and we want them to laugh, and we want to make them feel good about life and humanity. And so, it's fun to be able to be the emcee for that."
Heaton developed the show herself with Sarah Haskins and Emily Halpern as her follow-up to The Middle. The actress said she had no plans to sit back and relax after one show ended.
"I've been working since I was about 16. I started at a department store in high school, because I never wanted to have to ask anybody for money," Heaton said in August. "I wanted to be able to make my own decisions about what I want. And I value that independence. So, I've been used to working for a really long time. So that's part of it. I just got back. I was in Montana for three weeks. I can only take so much leisure before I start getting really antsy and I have to get back to work."
"I think it's an internal thing that you're born with. You want to go out and challenge yourself and put yourself in scary positions to see if you can do it. I just think it's my nature," the former Everybody Loves Raymond star said.
Carol's Second Act airs Thursdays at 9:30 p.m. ET on CBS.
Photo credit: Sonja Flemming/CBS