Group*** BBC One Scotland, 10.35pm

DREAM big or go home seems to have been the guiding force behind Group, the latest sitcom pilot for BBC Scotland. One of its creators says she had in mind Friends, only a contender for the title of most popular comedy of all time. When it comes to aiming high, that is rather like taking your newborn to Celtic Park and asking if she can play in the first team.

Then again, given its parentage, this spud-faced comedy nipper set in a therapy group stands more chance than most. The creators are Denise Mina, crime writer and Scotland’s national punk treasure, and Annie Griffin, who also directs. Griffin’s TV cv already includes The Book Group and Fresh Meat. Two women, then, who ought to know their character arcs from their elbows, so how do they do?

READ MORE: Denise Mina, a life in books

The group of the title have signed up for a “post-rehab wellness programme” set up by a creepy, polo-neck wearing American called Adam Derekson (Derek Riddell), who appears in a corporate video and in the fantasies of group convener Steph (Scot Squad’s Sally Reid).

This is privately-funded therapy which takes place in wood-panelled surroundings (Pollokshields Burgh Hall in reality) and the addicts are in recovery, so there is nothing distressing to see or hear. Comedy-wise we are in a safe space. Besides Steph, who has gambling and parent issues, there is a nervy fitness trainer, a former cocaine addict, an ex-drinker: you get the idea. All of them trying to stay sober, one session at a time.

READ MORE: Mina and Griffin join forces

The therapy savvy will notice a certain amount of avoidance going on here on the part of the reviewer. Sure, the pedigree of Group’s creators is pure Crufts, the strong Scottish cast also includes Jonathan Watson (Two Doors Down), Grant O’Rourke (Outlander), the dialogue is slick and convincing, and the characters credible. This is no sitcom train wreck, like last week’s offering, The Scotts.

The problem with Group is it lacks laughs. There are moments when you will smile, particularly at the passive-aggressiveness of some of the female characters (“You’re the one person who will never be too busy to pick up the phone”), but laugh out loud moments come there none.

Some might say this doesn’t matter too much in a pilot, where the priority is to draw the viewers in just enough to make them watch again. Maybe the subject matter does not lend itself to giggles, but Aisling Bea’s recent This Way Up, a Channel 4 sitcom about a woman trying to piece her life together again after a breakdown, did not have that problem, and it went to some very dark places.

READ MORE: Conviction, by Denise Mina, reviewed

The quality of the writing and performances are such that Group will likely make it to a series, and in time the second rule of sitcoms - that they live or die by the strength of the characters - might prove to be the case. But the first rule, the one which no episode of Friends ever ignored, is “don’t forget the funnies”. There is such a thing as being too cool for sitcom school.

Repeated Friday, January 17, BBC Scotland, 10.30pm