Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Pilot Review: Accidentally on Purpose

Accidentally on Purpose (CBS)
Premiered September 21 at 8:30pm

The newest comedy in CBS’ oeuvre isn’t very noteworthy in any sense. It’s not awful, but there’s nothing which makes it stand apart from any other series or makes it remotely memorable. Star Jenna Elfman is loud, energetic, and bouncy as usual, and it’s very overbearing for a show that isn’t terribly strong on its own merit. Her role as a film critic isn’t very impressive, as the only display of her trade knowledge comes from her outlook at her life as divided into segments of different Meg Ryan characters. It’s a prime example of how everything seems effortless and easy on this show – Billie gets pregnant, tells the father, and he decides to help raise his child and move in with Billie. The show looks like it will be about them to be just friendly parents and avoid being a couple, but the predictable outcome of nearly every scene is that Billie is swayed by the questionable charms of Jon Foster’s Zack. Compared to the other CBS Monday night comedies, this one doesn’t hold up well. Billie’s repeated accidental proclamations of “I love you” were far too reminiscent of, and inferior to, similar happenings in the series premiere of “How I Met Your Mother” a few years ago. On this show, Billie’s really the only big, entertaining character, with the exception of an unfortunately wasted Ashley Jensen (“Ugly Betty”). Both “Two and a Half Men” and “The Big Bang Theory” have many eccentric, over-the-top characters that are exaggerated and occasionally hilarious. Essentially, the show just isn’t remotely interesting, and none of the characters are entertaining enough to make the show worthwhile. The pilot’s few laughs are infrequent and fleeting, and not nearly enough to save it from being quickly buried and forgotten.

How will it work as a series? Billie and Zack don’t make for a very interesting, believable, or good couple. The baby won’t arrive for a while, and having the two mismatched parents get into squabbles over pointless things each episode isn’t likely to be very interesting. After the baby finally comes, things will probably get a lot more long-term and serious, and assuming the show makes it that far, attempts to make it more dramatic probably won’t work too well.
How long will it last? Nestled safely between successful CBS stalwarts “How I Met Your Mother” and “Two and a Half Men,” the show will likely have a longer life than it otherwise would. Ratings for the pilot were almost equal to those of “How I Met Your Mother,” so in that sense the show could be a hit. I think that the series doesn’t have much in it, and CBS will soon swap it out for repeats of one of its more long-term programs.

Pilot grade: D