Take Me To The Pilots '11: NBC's 'Bent'
David Walton and Amanda Peet are charming, if not funny in this midseason comedy
[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: "Bent" (NBC) [Midseason]
The Pitch: Hard to know, exactly. But for NBC it probably had a little something to do with Amanda Peet. Wait. Try this: "What if there were sexual tension between Murphy Brown and Eldin?"
Quick Response: Actually, I'll confess: It's been a LONG time since I last watched "Murphy Brown." Murphy and Eldin -- he of the never-ending painting job -- never actually consummated their client/contractor relationship, did they? Eldin was just a friend, confidante and surrogate father of sorts, right? Anyway... "Bent" is *kinda* a Vocational Irony Narrative insofar as it's the story of a complicated repair job that superficially will involve a single house (or a single kitchen), but really will involve the tear-down and build-up of the two main characters (Amanda Peet and David Walton), presumably through a relationship that will heal two souls which are "bent, not broken." I'm almost intrigued by how creator Tad Quill plans on spinning out this finite premise, especially since the pilot is EXTREMELY loose and doesn't quite know exactly what it wants to be. You've got Peet at the center and she's playing the Julia Roberts/Sandra Bullock part from a big screen romantic comedy: She's trying to be cold and tough and professional, but you know she'll melt in the third act (which isn't sustainable on a TV show). Walton, on his third NBC comedy in three seasons, has a different, sitcom-y broadness too him, but he's an interesting piece of against-type casting here, the eternal lunkheaded ex-boyfriend actually getting to be Mr. Right. Then you've got the contracting team run by Walton's character, a rag-tech ethnic hodge-podge featuring Pasha D. Lychnikoff, Rick Gonzalez and Jeffrey Tambor. The scenes with those three are broader, but I appreciated the speed with which Quill gave their work relationship a smarter-than-necessary history (making one recognize the sheer laziness a show like "2 Broke Girls" exhibits in relying on caricature to introduce its supporting characters). And then, finally, you've got the flighty relatives to Peet's character, the Neurotic Sitcom Daughter (Joey King) and the Free Spirited Sister (Margo Harshman). Walton and Peet have chemistry (though Walton also had chemistry with Mary Elizabeth Ellis on "Perfect Couples) and there are amusing touches in the background. It's a lot of elements, without a clear hook. And the result isn't a tonally coherent whole. And yet the result is likable and oddly charming, if rarely laugh-out-loud funny.
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Take Me To The Pilots '11: ABC's 'Scandal'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: NBC's 'Smash'
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Take Me To The Pilots '11: ABC's 'Suburgatory'
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Take Me To The Pilots '11: ABC's ' 'The River'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: ABC's 'Last Man Standing'
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Take Me To The Pilots '11: NBC's 'Up All Night'
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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'
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All of last year's Take Me To The Pilots installments.
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