Saturday, February 22, 2014

REVIEW: 'About a Boy' Tries to Charm Its Way Into Our Hearts & Mostly Succeeds in 'Pilot'

NBC's About a Boy - Episode 1.01 Pilot

After writing a hit song, Will (David Walton) was granted a life of free time, free love and freedom from financial woes. He is single, unemployed and loving it. But when Fiona (Minnie Driver), a needy, single mom and her charming son, Marcus (Benjamin Stockham), move in next door, his perfect life is about to hit a major snag.

Chello, everyone! This pilot is all about the charm. This show wants you to like Will and like Fiona and like Marcus and like Andy and like the strange bond that they soon share. That bond happens very quickly and very effectively. That credit goes to the pilot's writer Jason Katims and director Jon Favreau. They condensed the plot of the book and the movie the show is based on down into a 22-minute story. And everything just moves right along very briskly. Of course, that means it can't go as deep into these characters as in those past interpretations. The realest and most emotional moments come when Fiona's crying at the dinner table or Andy is pointing out Will's habit of walking away from relationships. The rest of this episode is about building this universe up and giving us the basic understanding of who these characters are.

NBC has used its coverage of the Olympic Games to preview its upcoming new comedy lineups before. It just has never been successful at launching a new comedic hit for the network. Go On and Animal Practice got Olympic previews two years ago - and both were canceled after their first seasons. While the ratings for the Sochi Winter Olympics have been lower than the London Summer Olympics, I still fully expect About a Boy to preview well. But more importantly, are viewers willing to stay for the entirety of its first season? It premieres in its regular slot on Tuesday, February 25. So I guess we'll have to wait and see.

Some more thoughts - Basically just quotes from this episode:
  • "Pilot" was written by Jason Katims & directed by Jon Favreau.
  • Will: "So I say again, 'Chello.'" Dakota: "Chello."
  • Fiona: "Perhaps, we can do this when there's less off you flopping about."
  • Marcus: "Hi, I'm Marcus. Me and my mom moved to San Francisco to improve our lives and discover ourselves." Will: "Like so many do."
  • Fiona: "In the spirit of a good neighbor, can you please refrain from grilling unless there is a south-westerly wind."
  • Will: "He blocks out. He's having a night terror." Dakota: "But it's daytime." Will: "Not in Africa."
  • Marcus: "Okay this tastes nothing like soy." Will: "No it does not."
  • Little girl: "He's touching her butt!"
  • Fiona: "You forced him to eat meat so you could have sex with her."
  • Fiona: "Hey, I told you to stay away from my son. Or are you here to seduce some other boy?" "Okay that sounded darker than I intended it to."
  • Will: "Friends?" Marcus: "Rack of ribs?" Will: "Double rack of ribs."
  • "We're neighbors. We can at least be friends." Ah, the basic premise of this show.