Take Me To The Pilots '11: ABC's 'Apartment 23'
[In case you've Forgotten, and as I will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots.]
Show: "Apartment 23" (ABC) [Note: I'm probably going to save most midseason shows for last, but "Apartment 23" has a semi-scheduled premiere and time slot after "Dancing with the Stars" wraps up, so I might as well.]
The Pitch:Nahnatchka Khan and Dave Hemingson's script is fairly hard to describe, at least in terms of other things. Normally my notes are awash in logical pop culture comparisons. In this case, it's a bit like "Friends" if Rachel and Monica were enemies, Joey was actually the successful former star of "Dawson's Creek" and nobody else existed.
Quick Response: I like Dreama Walker. She was very funny in brief moments on "Gossip Girl" and her scenes with Alan Cumming on "The Good Wife" this season were spectacular. Here, she has a solid vehicle as a wide-eyed Midwestern girl who comes to NYC and falls prey to The Bitch in Apartment 23 (Krysten Ritter), who brings in new roommates, scares them off and collects their deposits. It's an amusing conceit and the script is is a politically incorrect treat, full of well-constructed one-liners, insults and "Did they just say that?!?" toss-offs. I loved Walker and while I go back and forth of Krysten Ritter (mostly I'm not a fan, but she was so amazing on "Breaking Bad" that she's no longer the turn-off she was before) she's in one of her "good" modes here. I enjoyed the situation and the pacing and there are several background characters I could see wanting to be part of an ensemble in the future. What I didn't do was laugh. I smiled and I wrote down snippets of dialogue that I enjoyed, but I didn't laugh. And this isn't some kind of Showtime comedy that doesn't care if you laugh or not. "Apartment 23" wants you to laugh. Dunno what's up there. I'll try to figure it out by the time I do an actual review. Oh and people seem to be loving James Van Der Beek, playing James Van Der Beek Like You've Never Seen Him Before. I liked The Beek, but I've seen too many movies and TV shows with James Van Der Beek As I've Never Seen Him Before. After "Rules of Attraction," "Still Standing," "One Tree Hill" and a few other bits of semi-self-parody, The Beek didn't surprise me here, so that aspect of shock-humor fell short. But he's definitely good.
Desire To Watch Again: This is probably the best of the comedy pilots I've watched this spring? But again... no laughter. The minute Ritter's character gets softened -- and it's inevitable that Ritter's character is going to get softened -- a lot of fun of the premise vanishes and you're left with a single-camera Girls In The City sitcom and it could become interchangeable with CBS' "2 Broke Girls."