Sunday, September 26, 2010

Pilot Review: My Generation

My Generation (ABC)
Premiered September 23 at 8pm

The promos that I’ve seen endless times in theatres before movies for this show purport that there’s never been anything like it: a documentary-style, completely scripted series about a high school class reuniting after a number of years. First of all, that’s not true. There was a show on FOX back in 2005 called “Reunion” that had exactly the same premise, centering on six friends rather than nine randomly selected students. That show got the axe before it could finish its twenty-episode arc, and only nine out of thirteen produced episodes even made it to air. Though beginning with a charge of plagiarism is not a great recommender for a new series, it’s hardly a detractor unique to this one show. What’s more problematic, however, is the stark casting of each character as a defined, extreme archetype. These nine characters are universally grating and highly stereotypical rather than three-dimensional and genuinely interesting. “Reunion” may have been too dark and preoccupied with solving a murder for its own good, but it had much better characters around which to anchor its stories. Unlike a show like “The Office,” the cameras are almost always acknowledged, and in the case of many flippant gestures, it’s clear that they aren’t wanted. If the audience isn’t interested in following these characters either, this show is going to have its work cut out for it. The incestuousness of these people is simply baffling, and from the looks of things the webs are only to become more tangled as the show continues. The attempts to recreate the year 2000 and highlight the time in between then and now are irritating, and the music choices are especially bothersome. If these character tropes didn’t seem so fabricated to help engineer the storyline, this show might have a better chance at success. Still, this is simply a case of unoriginal ideas being wrapped up in what’s being falsely marketed as a novel concept. None of the performers impress (Kelli Garner is particularly annoying), and while the dialogue isn’t quite as bad as it could be, the plot is.

How will it work as a series? The writers have created nine characters with interlocking stories and additional stories of their own, so the possibilities are generally a bit endless, even though I can pretty much predict where all of the arcs are going to head at this point. The camera crew aspect of it all might have to be ditched eventually if this show makes it to a second or third season, but as far as material goes, the well won’t dry up anytime soon.
How long will it last? Last year, ABC premiered a complex drama that necessitated weekly viewing in this timeslot. “My Generation” is definitely a better fit than “Flash Forward” to go along with “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Private Practice.” Sadly for this show, however, the ratings were considerably lower than those of the future-seeing show last year, and this one may well wrap even quicker than “Reunion” did. I’d give it until December.


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