Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Pilot Review: Shameless

Shameless (Showtime)
Premiered January 9 at 10pm

Let me start off by saying that this show has a lot of characters. Even with Frank’s helpful run-through at the very start, I can’t imagine that I’ll get to know more than three of these characters’ names, even if I stick through with the show until the bitter end (the British version is on its eight season). That said, of course, I’m completely fascinated by all of the characters and totally in for the long haul. The hour-long format threw me off a bit considering the fact that most Showtime comedies are only half an hour, but I think it works. Enormous amount of ground was covered in just the pilot, and yet there are still so many more places for the show to go in the future, in part thanks to the staggering number of characters. I’m quite impressed particularly by the fringe plotlines and their incorporation of excellent actors. Justin Chatwin, who appeared in only the pilot episode of “Weeds,” is terrific as Steve, the new boyfriend whose romance began with him failing to retrieve Fiona’s purse. Though I couldn’t put my finger on who she was, Joan Cusack was very entertaining as the clueless mother of a rather excitable young student. Though she barely had any lines, I could never miss Marguerite Moreau, who I hope will have a more extensive part in future episodes in her role in the convenience store where Ian works. The main cast is also terrific, including Cameron Monaghan as Ian and most especially the lovely Emmy Rossum as the not-so-lovely and deeply interesting Fiona. The writing is strong, and the show has a tone reminiscent of so many other Showtime shows, subtly comic in the face of other dramatic situations. This is the kind of busy, complicated show that I want to spend time with and get to know intricately.

How will it work as a series? Like other Showtime shows, this one will likely explore standalone arcs each week while also moving forward the greater plotline. This show has the advantage of an hour per episode as well as seven plus seasons of source material on which to base itself. I’m entirely intrigued – are you?
How long will it last? Though I would pin it as a comedy, the airing of the pilot is being touted as the most-watched drama series premiere in seven years on Showtime. That’s pretty damn good. I suspect that this one is going to be around for a good, long time, similar to its British inspiration. A season two renewal should likely be on its way, as long as Showtime’s Biggest Sunday Ever continues to steamroll and do well.

Pilot grade: B+

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