Thursday, March 17, 2016

Pilot Review: The Family

The Family (ABC)
Premiered March 3 at 9pm

I saw so many posters all around New York City advertising this show, with an idyllic picture of a family with glass shattered in front of it as if a frame had been broken. I wasn’t excited at all for this show since I feel like this kind of series has popped up a lot lately, and it managed not even to meet my low expectations. The writing is truly horrendous, particularly when it comes to the characters of Joan Allen’s Mayor Claire Warren and Margot Bingham’s hapless Detective Nina Meyer. The mayor is so focused on her career and ascending the political ladder, which makes sense, but the lines she utters, particularly “You’re a drunk,” make her out to be more of a robot than a three-dimensional human being. Detective Meyer always manages to say the wrong thing but claims it’s because she’s doing her job and someone needs to be gruff and crude, and it’s hard to imagine her getting any sort of promotion. My suspicion that the actor who plays Adam, Rupert Graves, is British was correct, and it’s very easy to tell given his poor ability to conceal his accent. I’m surprised and disappointed that Alison Pill and Zach Gilford, two actors who should have won Emmys for the Emmy-winning shows they starred on - “The Newsroom” and “Friday Night Lights” - respectively, are on this show, since they should be off doing much better things. I knew I recognized the actor who plays Adam, Liam James, and it’s because he was Jack, a.k.a. Little Man, all throughout “The Killing.” He’s probably the most capable and properly-cast one here, embodying the creepy uncertainty of whether he actually is who he says he is. As Hank Asher, the wrongly convicted but still suspicious neighbor, Andrew McCarthy is also pretty good, admittedly. Some might be interested in finding out what really happened after this sampling - I have no desire to find out.

How will it work as a series? A mystery like this has to play out somewhat slowly while dropping enough hints along the way as to what’s going on, but in this case it’s a simple question of whether Adam is indeed Adam, which will then open up more questions. Keeping things unknown might help with suspense but won’t enhance the drama at all, and concluding that everyone on this show is a little bit bad won’t be too satisfying either.
How long will it last? While the reviews for this show weren’t as bad as I might have expected, the ratings were. The show debuted on a Thursday and has aired two episodes in its regular Sunday timeslot since (the one benefit of being so behind on TV - more data!), where it performed worse than in its initial outing. I wouldn’t count on this one to last past May.

Pilot grade: D-

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