Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Pilot Grade: Forever

Forever (Amazon)
Premiered September 14

I didn’t know anything about this show, and after watching it for nearly five minutes without any dialogue, I thought that it might be a whole series crafted in the mold of the opening scene of “Up.” It turns out that wasn’t the case, but it still proved to be a startlingly effective way to introduce the monotony and low-key nature of this couple and their marriage. Fred Armisen and Maya Rudolph are both talented multiple Emmy nominees with a background on “Saturday Night Live,” and though Armisen is inarguably odder than Rudolph, they both know how to play weird well. That’s the nature of this show, which finds them proceeding along in their marriage and preparing for another expected trip to the same place they go every year. Rudolph’s June suggesting that they try skiing instead was a curveball that Armisen’s Oscar eagerly accepted, though of course June was the one who ended up being more miserable when she got sent to a time-out for pushing a kid who was rude to her. Ending the episode with Oscar presumably skiing into a tree demonstrates what’s in store for these two, which is uncertainty, misery, and maybe a happy ending somewhere far past all the obstacles in their way. Armisen and Rudolph are both great, and I’m glad to see them given this platform on Amazon. Finding out that this show comes from Alan Yang, co-creator of “Master of None,” and Matt Hubbard, a writer for “30 Rock,” helps to explain its melded strangeness, which works well to its advantage.

How will it work as a series? That’s hard to know. This first half-hour was fun and involving, but it’s hard to get a sense of what comes next. These two are so calm that it might be boring to watch them and then jarring to see one or both of them explode, but I have faith that Armisen and Rudolph are well-equipped to go exactly where they need to go as guided by the experienced Yang and Hubbard.
How long will it last? Amazon’s ratings data isn’t going to be released anytime soon, but this show is starting off with positive reviews and likely preparing itself for a future that will last exactly as long as its creators want. All eight episodes are already available, and I suspect this show might end up with a second season but then that will probably be it, exclusively for creative storytelling reasons.

Pilot grade: B+

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