Tuesday, March 4, 2014

REVIEW: 'About a Boy' - Marcus Finds a Dumbwaiter & Feels A New Emotion for the Very First Time in 'About Total Exuberance'

NBC's About a Boy - Episode 1.02 About Total Exuberance

Andy guilts Will into babysitting Marcus so Fiona can go on a job interview, but things get complicated when they receive a last-minute invitation to a charity pool party hosted by rap star Lil Jon. Meanwhile, Fiona discovers that honesty isn't always the best policy when it comes to landing a job.

I completely fell in love with the charm that About a Boy showcased in its pilot. Unfortunately, that just makes the transition to episode two that much more disappointing. "About Total Exuberance" includes a plot that feels beat-by-beat similar to the one that happened in the pilot. But it simply doesn't have the same source of tension that that first episode had. Using the plot of the book and movie for just the pilot felt like a good thing to introduce us to this world. However, it just voided all the tension that was in the Will and Fiona relationship.

In this episode, Fiona just sees him as a convenient babysitter. And then, she just gets cast aside to do a multitude of things offscreen. When the show needs her to stand firm as oppositional force to whatever Will does, then they bring her into a scene. Otherwise they just don't cut to her because they don't know exactly how to make her funny in her own right. She seemed to become more British in this episode too - with the joke about George Washington and calling Will a twit.

And the party environment felt too over-the-top and wacky for me to believe that it actually exists in a reasonable universe - not to mention the same universe as Parenthood and Friday Night Lights! It was as if the show felt the need to be more overtly comedic in its tone and presented this environment to meet that criteria.

Because it spent so much time building up this new place for the plot, it kinda threw logic out the window. The resolution with the diving board just felt oddly structured. It all boiled down to Marcus feeling total exuberance for the first time ever. Which is good I guess. 

Some more thoughts:
  • This week in Al Madrigal is the only one who knows he's in a single camera comedy. Jokes about not seeing a movie since 2008 and not being at party without a bouncy house in three years.
  • The dumbwaiter was a decent gag to bookend the episode. I just wish there was more of it in the middle.
  • Marcus: "I am pale." Will: "Disturbingly pale." Marcus: "Freakishly pale."
  • But hey, there's Lil Jon for a bit to plug the American Diabetes Association.