Friday, December 21, 2012

Pilot Review: 1600 Penn

1600 Penn (NBC)
Premiered December 17 at 9:30pm

I didn’t have high expectations for this show based on the promotional material and trailers I had seen, and this first half-hour didn’t change my attitude at all. It’s disappointing since this show theoretically had potential, mainly with the casting of Bill Pullman as the President, considering his experience playing the commander-in-chief in one of the most awesome action movies of all time, “Independence Day.” While Pullman has also proven himself comedically capable, in “While You Were Sleeping” and other films, this role doesn’t allow him to do much of anything, putting the focus squarely on other members of his family. Jenna Elfman impressed me with her dramatic role in the fifth season of “Damages” earlier this year, and this could have been a great part for her as well. Yet it seems that the kids will take center stage, which is a shame since they’re all so annoying. While I understand that Josh Gad is creatively involved with this show, I think that his character, Skip, is instantly one of the most irritating personalities ever seen on television. I really didn’t like Gad in Fox’s short-lived “Back to You” several years ago, and I think spotlighting him here is a real mistake. That said, I don’t see anything to like about this overenthusiastic, trite series, and so I’m not sure that focusing on any one of the presidential family members, even the pregnant Becca, played by Martha MacIsaac, who played a character with the same name in “Superbad,” would make it any better. In an age of modern, hop comedies, this is definitely not what America wants to be watching right now.

How will it work as a series? The show’s name indicates that the presidential residence will be its focus, suggesting that Skip and his troublesome siblings will be getting into shenanigans that their parents will have to clean up. This is hardly going to be a show worthy of comparison to other presidential series.
How long will it last? The show’s reviews weren’t great but weren’t nearly as collectively negative as this one, and the show performed decently after “The Voice.” A Thursday time slot likely won’t be nearly as friendly, and I suspect that this one will be forced to resign shortly into its inaugural term.

Pilot grade: F

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