Thursday, May 23, 2013

Pilot Review: The Goodwin Games

The Goodwin Games (FOX)
Premiered May 20 at 8:30pm

I’ll never understand the point of holding a show until the end of the season and then airing it with the express knowledge that it’s going to die a quick and virtually unnoticed death. The wonderful Becki Newton has especially bad luck with this after NBC pulled the same stunt with “Love Bites” two years ago. I remember watching a trailer for this show at last year’s upfronts, back when Jake Lacy was still set to be in the role of Jimmy, and then hearing in November that its series order was cut from thirteen to seven episodes, and then in January that FOX had no faith in the show and probably wouldn’t even air it until summer. The principle of the matter aside, this is not a good show, and it’s probably best that it was saved for summer since people might actually tune it with little else to watch. It’s a silly premise that presumes that Beau Bridges’ patriarch spent his dying days recording endless videos that predict his children’s actions and compel them to play games together to vie for his mysteriously existent fortune. The actors involved are skilled in comedy, but this is hardly the best role for Scott Foley or Newton, who hasn’t had a chance to really show off her skills since “Ugly Betty.” And I can’t keep thinking that Lacy, who was so hilarious in ABC’s “Better With You” a few years ago, would have been so much funnier both than T.J. Miller from “Carpoolers,” who plays the role, and than his decently likeable but otherwise pointless character Pete/Plop on the final season of “The Office.” Mainly, this show is too broad or over-the-top to be taken seriously, and it’s not funny enough to justify the suspension of disbelief it demands.

How will it work as a series? Only seven episodes means that there aren’t too many games that need to be played (as opposed to, say, NBC’s “100 Questions,” which debuted around this same time in 2010 and only managed to answer six questions). A self-contained arc could work well, if the show proves to be more creative than its pilot episode suggests it can be.
How long will it last? Seven episodes, if that. FOX has already announced its fall schedule and this one isn’t close to on it. The pilot episode was put online early (that’s how I watched it), which may give it a boost to ensure that all seven episodes air. Admittedly, I may even watch it since it airs during the period between when broadcast network shows end and summer cable shows begin, but I’m not sure I’m make it through all seven.

Pilot grade: D-

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