Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Pilot Review: A Million Little Things

A Million Little Things (ABC)
Premiered September 26 at 10pm

There’s a certain type of drama that’s probably best termed the “ensemble friends” archetype that involves a group of seemingly haphazard people who for some reason have become friends and are struggling to get through their lives without too much heartache and drama. There’s no unifying plot point that weaves the projects in this genre together, though a significant event that changes everything usually serves as a decent broad catalyst. This show heightens that in its debut episode with one of the four friends about to take his own life only to be stopped by the news that another friend beat him to it. Grappling with how someone they knew so well could be feeling so strongly that he felt he had to end his life will be the main focus for these surviving friends, and they’re also going to have to devote some attention to the one who’s still left who confessed where his head was at moments before he heard about Jon. While these details are specific to this story, there’s little about the structure and likely destination of this show, which demonstrates itself to be uncreative and not particularly appealing in its first hour. Ron Livingston is obviously charismatic and will appear infinitely moreso because he’ll show up only in flashbacks designed to shed light on what led him to his fateful decision. Romany Malco was great in a supporting role on early “Weeds” but this isn’t as strong a part for him. I really liked James Roday on “Psych” but think that he’s miscast here as a man who has breast cancer, a punchline in itself that doesn’t need to exist and only does the show a disservice by being featured so much. This is a show that will likely soon fade into oblivion, yet another attempt to find intrigue in a situation that’s hardly well-defined or unique in its presentation.

How will it work as a series? An affair between two of the main characters, one of who was Jon’s wife, will complicate matters when it inevitably comes out, and things are moving fast for the others, namely Roday’s Gary, who brought his date to the funeral of one of his best friends. Antics will surely ensue as answers are pursued, traveling what I’m sure will be a very familiar road.
How long will it last? Reviews were expectedly lukewarm, but this isn’t a show that is going to win or lose based on how critics feel about it. While its initial pilot ratings weren’t promising, it appears that this show was recorded heavily and therefore might have a more optimistic future. I think viewers will check out a couple episodes in and this one will be cancelled by or before the time it airs its thirteen-episode order.

Pilot grade: C

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