Tuesday, May 13, 2014

REVIEW: 'About a Boy' - Will Has a Major Decision to Make in 'About a Hammer' & 'About a Rib Chute'

NBC's About a Boy - Episode 1.12 "About a Hammer" & Episode 1.13 "About a Rib Chute"

Sam temporarily moves in with Will. Fiona gets the impression that Sam is pregnant. Will and Marcus build a treehouse. Sam gets a job opportunity in New York and Will turns to Andy for his sage advice in figuring out how to best move forward.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. About a Boy is a really satisfying emotional drama when it wants to be. The one-hour first season finale deals with some heavy stuff. Will's trying to figure out if he can be a good dad and then has to deal with Marcus after deciding to leave for New York City with Sam. These aren't comedic stakes. They are emotionally real and messy stakes. And that, ultimately makes the execution of them all much more satisfying. I'm not sure I laughed at all during these two episodes. But I enjoyed them a ton. About a Boy is a half-hour dramedy. The more it accepts that, the more special I think it is.

The first episode tonight, "About a Hammer," is the lighter of the two but it still gets to emotionally satisfying place. A bit of the comedy did feel force. The conflict between Will and Sam over her moving in and taking over his space felt forced. Marcus' fear of hammers felt odd and yet also like something a protected children like him would be afraid of. It was a big roundabout way of saying that Will would be a great dad. Heck, any parent willing to tell their child the truth all the time seems like a good parent. But we could all guess that Sam was not really pregnant. It's miscommunication of words that leads Fiona to infer things and jump to conclusions. It's a standard plot on sitcoms that doesn't really get a fresh take here. And yet, it's nice seeing how far Will has grown this season. Yes, his friendship with Marcus is weird but it has also made him a better man. And of course, it's all leading up to the reveal that Sam has gotten a job opportunity in New York City. That is a whole new challenge for this couple.

And the show doesn't back away from those stakes in the season finale, "About a Rib Chute." In Jason Katims' past series, he's typically had to write season finales as potential series finales in case the network didn't renew the show. He doesn't really have that concern with About a Boy. It was NBC's highest rated comedy this season and has been renewed for Season 2. But Katims didn't know that when he was drafting the season finale. So we get a finale that feels like things coming full circle. Will and Marcus came together and because of their friendship Will is now leaving to commit to something for the first time in his life. This is the next step in his life. And that's devastating to Marcus - who sees Will as the cool neighbor who will always be right next door. He's angry because Will has also opened many new doors for him as well. Fiona is more understanding but she'll miss him too. But Will's able to patch things up by implementing Marcus' ideas into the treehouse and singing a new version of One Direction's "What Makes You Beautiful" - just like they did in the pilot! No matter what the two of them will be friends for life. So while life will evolve around them, they can always count on each other. And that's such a strong way to go out for the season.   

Some more thoughts:
  • "About a Hammer" was written by Mark Kunerth and directed by Dylan K. Massin.
  • "About a Rib Chute" was written by Jason Katims and directed by Lawrence Trilling.
  • Andy is typically asked to be a sad-sack & to be mocked by the other characters but he does get an important moment in the finale when he too doesn't want Will to leave but comes around on it.
  • But come on! How long until Will's back in his San Francisco home next season? It's a great way to end the season but it's simply an unsustainable twist for season two. Which probably means they're gonna have to turn Sam into a bad person in order for them to break up. And that makes me sad because I like Sam.