Take Me To The Pilots '11: ABC's 'Suburgatory'
[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: "Suburbatory" (ABC)
The Pitch: "The suburbs are wacky." "Got anything else?" "Well, they're a bit superficial." "OK... and?" "Oh, just go with it and we'll try to make it funny."
Quick Response: "Suburgatory" does NOT blaze any particularly fresh intellectual terrain. Emily Kapnek's script uses a pair of transplanted New Yorkers (Jeremy Sisto and Jane Levy as a good-natured father and his uber-sardonic daughter) to reveal that The Suburbs are synthetic and that they force everybody to act and look and talk alike, that they encourage conformity and superficiality. Are you saying you've seen this kinda thing before? Well of course you have. And you've probably seen it done a bit better, whether you happen to have been a fan of the Agrestic seasons of "Weeds" or "American Beauty" or "The 'burbs" or "The Stepford Wives" any of the dozens of similarly askew views of suburban culture. But you don't have to be fresh to be sharp and Kapnek's script shoots through a diverse assortment of pop culture references and hits many of its targets. Levy was a terrific discovery on "Shameless" last season as Mandy Milkovich and it's no surprise that she's got a tart tongue and perfect comic timing with good rhythms and a consistent voice. You could put Levy's Tessa alongside the characters played by Ashley Rickards in "Awkward," Caroline Dhavernas in "Wonderfalls" and animation in "Daria" as part of a recent pantheon of wry teenage observers, or at least it's my belief/hope that the character could develop to earn a place in that pantheon. Levy's definitely good enough to take the character there. Sisto gets good mileage out of his rumpled charm and out of the strangeness of Jeremy Sisto playing the father of a teenage girl, establishing a quick and quality rapport with Levy. The actors representing the suburbanites have been directed to go a wee bit broad and while Alan Tudyk and Cheryl Hines get pilot laughs because, you know, they're good at this, I'm not sure if the types they're playing are sustainable on a network show. After they get softened into real people, we'll see if they're as amusing as they were as caricatures. "Suburgatory" doesn't nail all of its targets and the familiarity -- especially with the recent success of "Awkward" -- is sometimes a drawback, but the pilot shows a lot of potential to mix ironic bite with earnest heart and, if it progresses, I see no reason why it shouldn't fit in nicely between "The Middle" and "Modern Family."
Desire To Watch Again: ABC's got its new comedies about Masculinity in Crisis and then ABC has its new comedies that I like. "Suburgatory" I like. Even if I don't grow to love it, I can definitely see this being a comedy I'll happily check out here and there and appreciate having around in repeat cycles.
Take Me To The Pilots '11: The CW's 'Ringer'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: FOX's 'Terra Nova'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: NBC's 'Whitney'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: ABC's 'Pan Am'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: FOX's 'Alcatraz'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: CBS' 'Person of Interest'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: ABC's ' 'The River'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: ABC's 'Last Man Standing'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: CBS' 'Two Broke Girls'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: NBC's 'Up All Night'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: ABC's 'Revenge'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: ABC's 'Once Upon a Time'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: NBC's 'Awake'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: FOX's 'I Hate My Teenage Daughter'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: The CW's 'The Secret Circle'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: CBS' 'Unforgettable'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: NBC's 'The Playboy Club'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: ABC's 'Charlie's Angels'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: NBC's 'Grimm'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: FOX's 'New Girl'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: The CW's 'Hart of Dixie'
Take Me To The Pilots ' 11: ABC's 'Apartment 23'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: CBS' 'A Gifted Man'
All of last year's Take Me To The Pilots installments.
2007 | Comedy | PGSummary: Newlyweds Nick (Ice Cube) and Suzanne (Long) decide to move to the suburbs to provide a better life for their two kids. But their idea of a dream home is disturbed by a contractor (McGinley) with a bizarre approach to business.Director: Steve Carr
Cast: John C. McGinley, Ice Cube, Nia Long, Aleisha Allen
2013 | Comedy | NRSummary: Insanely funny comedy show created by Amy Schumer, who stars in brilliantly funny sketches about sex, city living, dating, and friendship.Director: Daniel Powell, Amy Schumer (creators)
Cast: Amy Schumer, Kevin Kane, Mike Houston
2008 | Science Fiction | PGSummary: Animated series continues the story of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker as they battle the Emperor Palpatine, Count Dooku and General Grievous, but also takes time to explore other smaller characters in the Star Wars universe.Director: George Lucas (creator)
Cast: Tom Kane, Dee Bradley Baker, Matt Lanter
1995 | Mystery | NRSummary: Denzel Washington plays an out of work WWII vet who takes the wrong job and is soon neck-deep in a mess of politics, murder, and jazz in '40s Los Angeles.Director: Carl Franklin
Cast: Denzel Washington, Tom Sizemore, Jennifer Beals
1997 | Crime | RSummary: Quentin Tarantino adaptats an Elmore Leonard novel into this story of a few increasingly desperate people scraping to get by. It has deep soul, a wicked sense of humor, and Samuel L. Jackson, Robert De Niro, Pam Grier, and Robert Forster.Director: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster
2013 | Thriller | RSummary: Based on the true story of Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg) a Miami bodybuilder who wants to live the American dream. He would like to have the money that other people have. So he enlists the help of fellow bodybuilder Adrian Doorbal (Anthony Mackie) and ex-convict, Christian bodybuilder Paul Doyle (D...Director: Michael Bay
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthony Mackie, Tony Shalhoub
1996 | Crime | RSummary: Jerry, a small-town Minnesota car salesman is bursting at the seams with debt... but he's got a plan. He's going to hire two thugs to kidnap his wife in a scheme to collect a hefty ransom from his wealthy father-in-law. It's going to be a snap and nobody's going to get hurt... until people start ...Director: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Cast: William H. Macy, Frances McDormand, Steve Buscemi, Peter Stormare
1993 | Sports | PGSummary: Emotionally powerful sports classic featuring Sean Astin as a skinny high school kid with big football dreams and the determination to make his way towards his dream team at Notre Dame.Director: David Anspaugh
Cast: Sean Astin, Jon Favreau, Ned Beatty
2013 | Drama | RSummary: Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill have boundless energy in the story of a real-life commodities crook who earned millions through scummy small-time stock trades.Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie
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