Pilot Preview: ABC's Arm-candy Comedy Trophy Wife
Hey you! This isn't a review, it's a PREview. Huge difference. Most notably, the "P." Also, these PREviews are based on early cuts of pilots that might change drastically by the time they officially hit the air, so we can't properly review them. But we CAN give you an idea of what to expect. In this series of early looks at the new shows of fall 2013, there's no contemplating, no deep analysis; just super-duper quick thoughts on what we just watched that we're passing on to you. We'll revisit each previewed show in the fall with the hyper-intellectual breakdowns and fart jokes you're used to from us goons here at TV.com.
Trophy Wife – Tuesdays at 9:30pm on ABC
STARRING AND CREATED BY: Malin Akerman (Childrens Hospital; Silk Spectre II from The Watchmen) is the star here, and she's supported by Bradley Whitford (Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip; Adam Sandler's smarmy nemesis from Billy Madison), Marcia Gay Harden (Damages, Mystic River), Michaela Watkins (Enlightened), Natalie Morales (The Middleman), and that kid with the teeth, Ryan Scott Lee (one of Chang's army in Community; Super 8). Emily Halpern (The Unit) and Sarah Haskins (Family Tools) wrote the pilot.
THE GIST: Kate (Akerman) is a "former party girl" who winds up marrying an older gentleman named Pete (Whitford) thanks to some weird circumstances. She becomes Pete's third wife and joins an already existing modern family *ahem* of three stepchildren and two ex-wives. So how will a young, attractive lady with no mommy experience handle a situation she isn't prepared for? Presumably, that's what we'll find out over the course of 100 episodes and syndication deals.
SNAP JUDGMENT: Ehhhh not bad, though the standard by which we judge network comedies nowadays is awfully forgiving. The best thing Trophy Wife has to offer is a charming look at an increasingly more common family structure of ex-somethings and step-whatchamacallits in addition to the nuclear center. There's obvious love for family here, and that comes across because the show thankfully doesn't make all of its characters into A-holes. The stereotype of the spiteful ex-wife is blown up twice as everyone gets along reasonably well, a refreshing new take on what's been ingrained in our heads as fact. I love Akerman from her work on Burning Love and Childrens Hospital and I generally think she's better off doing comedy with more of an edge, but Trophy Wife falls in line with some of her other more commercial work. The humor is pretty routine and heartwarming, but it's also competent, so the show could end up being a nice second-tier comedy for ABC.
PILOTITIS DIAGNOSIS: After a short and mostly painless set-up, this gets straight to the feel of the series and the characters are all well introduced. Well done, writers!
FACES TO LOOK OUT FOR: First and foremost, this is Akerman's chane to introduce herself to America, and she's mostly take-home-to-your-mom delightful. But Watkins—whose subtle brilliance as Enlightened's sorta new-age and partially defeated lost soul Jackie was overlooked—kills it and is destined for many great best-friend roles.
RANDOM THOUGHTS: Look I'm not being racist here, but one of Pete's stepchildren was adopted from China and I swear the writers just made him into the bubbly, super-positive, very curious kid from Up. This is not a bad thing.
EXCITEMENT LEVEL: Middle-of-the-road, let's say 6 out of 10. Is it as good as Suburgatory? No. Is it better than Super Fun Night? Hell yes. It's definitely good enough to warrant sticking around for a few episodes.
PILOT PREVIEW POWER RANKINGS:
(Where we rank the fall season's pilots based on very early impressions)
1. Almost Human - J.J. Abrams and J.H. Wyman's robotic buddy-cop drama
1. Trophy Wife - Malin Akerman marries into a big family and ends up with two ex-wives and three stepchildren in the process
2. About a Boy - Jason Katims' TV adaptation of the film adaption of Nick Hornby's novel about a man-boy friendship
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