Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Pilot Review: Happyish

Happyish (SHO)
Premiered April 26 at 9:30pm

I’m usually a fan of Showtime comedies, knowing full well that they’re sometimes not all that funny, opting for a darker take on comedy instead. This show definitely goes in that direction, casting Steve Coogan in a role that was originally supposed to be played by Philip Seymour Hoffman. There’s no denying that Coogan’s Thom Payne is extremely angry, and he’s ready to curse out Thomas Jefferson, America, and everything else that gets in his way to make it known that he doesn’t want to settle for his miserable existence. I’m curious to see what Hoffman would have been like in the role since it’s not as easy to warm up to Coogan, or rather that Hoffman might have been so fantastically despicable in a way that Coogan’s hyper British demeanor can’t quite allow him to be. I’d also love to see Kathryn Hahn given a meatier role, though I did enjoy her quickness to tell another parent off when she tried to give her parenting advice. Bradley Whitford seems like the most solid and well-cast member of the ensemble, a bitter supervisor who doesn’t feel entitled to the same kind of outburst as Thom despite his similar feelings. This show feels a lot like the workplace version of “Togetherness,” a quiet show about people just waiting to explode. This first episode wasn’t an enticing or intriguing as I might have hoped, but Showtime usually proves dependable, and I’m more than willing to give this show at least a few more tries before I abandon it altogether.

How will it work as a series? This show has an intellectual undercurrent that should serve it very well, intent on underlining the fact that these characters’ states of being are rooted in history and circumstance. I think this could well be a strong show that may ultimately have nothing to do with its premise.
How long will it last? It’s all a question of whether Showtime wants to invest in it. The reviews haven’t been great, with many doubting the enduring positivity of this show and its general quality. This won’t be a ratings smash, surely, but I think that Showtime will still opt to give it another shot and see where it goes in a second season.

Pilot grade: B-

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