Monday, February 24, 2014

Pilot Review: About a Boy

About a Boy (NBC)
Premiered February 22 at 11pm

Assessing this pilot should begin with a look at its star, whose presence is loud, uninhibited, and a definitive factor in whether people will enjoy the show. David Walton has actually appeared in a bunch of shows in the past decade, not one of which made it to a second season. I first saw him in “100 Questions” and “Perfect Couples,” both on NBC in 2010, and my reviews of the pilots (I don’t remember much about either show) don’t include any real mention of his performance. He was, however, front and center in “Bent” opposite Amanda Peet, and that was a positive use of him. Many felt that he was excessive and irritating on “New Girl” as Jess’ pediatrician boyfriend, and now he’s back at NBC anchoring his own show all by himself. This adaptation of the popular 2002 film, which was based on a Nick Hornby novel, casts Walton in the role inhabited by Hugh Grant in the film. Grant gives off a much more likeable vibe, and so we’ll have to get to like Walton’s Will based on the merits of his nonchalant lifestyle and love for grilling meat. His relationship with precocious young Marcus is not one that’s meant to be taken literally, since Marcus could never be real, but it’s the backbone of a show that really just doesn’t work since it’s not trying very hard at all. Leslie Bibb’s Dakota is far too gullible and eager, but I did enjoy Minnie Driver’s vegan mother, who might be more compelling if she wasn’t so prone to crying. Recreating the talent show from the film led to an endearing if awkward ending, and while I think this show was fairly fun to watch, it’s far from good.

How will it work as a series? The jig is up regarding Marcus posing as Will’s son, and he might have done well by stepping in to save the day and Marcus’ reputation at school at the same time. Now he and Fiona can try to be friends, which will surely be a difficult path, but one that should provide some laughs along the way.
How long will it last? Premiering on a Saturday night isn’t exactly indicative of how the show will fare, but the numbers were pretty good, and given that it airs its second episode tomorrow, it might have a fighting chance at building momentum. Walton shouldn’t get his hopes of finally getting a second season up just yet, but it could happen.

Pilot grade: C-

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