Take Me To The Pilots '11: NBC's 'Free Agents'
[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: "Free Agents" (NBC)
The Pitch: I honestly don't know.
Quick Response: I haven't seen the original British "Free Agents," so I don't know the source material, but somewhere something went horrible wrong with "Free Agents." It's not just that it's a single camera comedy without any laughs and in which the squandered punchlines -- 98 percent of them puerile sexual banter -- lead to 22 minutes of cringing without even a single smile. No. What's crushing about "Free Agents" is that it was written by Jon Enbom ("Party Down") and directed by Todd Holland ("Malcolm in the Middle"), two men of such prodigious talent that I'm not sure how, even by accident, they could botch a half-hour comedy's tone and pacing this badly. And then you move to the cast. Hank Azaria's a funny guy, though he's never really been funny as a leading man, has he? He's always been an extraordinarily valuable character actor, working in both comedic and dramatic contexts. Maybe that's also always been the case with Kathryn Hahn, who I'm certain I've found hilarious in the past, but maybe only in supporting roles. Anthony Head's got his "Buffy" bona fides and he's playing a character he originated on the British series, but he's stuck as an outrageous boss who, isn't outrageously funny. You're supposed to be shocked by the things Head's character is saying -- think Philip Baker Hall in "The Loop" as one fine example -- but instead of being shocked, I though "OK, so this guy's a tool." I know she's an acquired taste, but Natasha Leggero's made me laugh in the past, as has Joe LoTruglio. And Leggero and LoTruglio were definitely the two least painful parts of the pilot. But overall? Serious discomfort and unpleasantness. I'd say "Free Agents" ranked above only "I Hate My Teenage Daughter" and "Work It" in this year's comedy pack. Worst of all, it's not like "Free Agents" fails in the process of trying to be different or innovative or to push the boundaries of the genre. It fails in taking any recognizably human traits from any of the main characters and making them grotesque, then wedging them into a generic workplace sitcom. Seriously, look at the gallery picture accompanying this post. How uncomfortable to Azaria and Hahn look? That's how uncomfortable the pilot feels.
Desire To Watch Again: If I had an iota less good faith in reserve for the people involved, I would gladly never watch "Free Agents" again. But Enbom and Holland have given me a lot of good laughs. And I like Azaria and Hahn, or I've liked them in the past. And Anthony Head is freakin' Giles, which will always be a mark in his favor. Remember how I said that I'd save that one scene from "Whitney" before scrapping the rest of that pilot? There's no one scene I'd save from "Free Agents." So Episode 2 is guaranteed to be better. Look at me being all optimistic. Go, "Free Agents"!
Take Me To The Pilots '11: ABC's 'Suburgatory'
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.
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
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 | 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
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
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
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
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
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
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