Hey TV.com, Should I Watch 1600 Penn?

Thanks to the success of Modern Family, family comedies are hotter than Sofia Vergara in Saran Wrap. But who wants another uptight mom, goofy dad, dumb old sibling, precocious younger sibling, and innocent and idiotic youngest sibling living boring, regular, relatable lives? NBC, sorta! The network's latest comedy, 1600 Penn, takes the family-comedy formula and shoves it into the White House for some high-concept-yet-comforting laughs. But does it work? I've seen the first three episodes and can tell you without hesitation... MAYBE.


What is 1600 Penn about?

1600 Penn is a slapstick look at the FFOTUS (First Family of the United States). There's daddy president (Bill Pullman), stepmom first lady (Jenna Elfman), goofball dummy eldest son (Josh Gad), perfect daughter, other younger daughter, and precocious youngest son. Of course, the family humor is all under the microscope of the media attention the most powerful man in the world deserves, so little things go a long way. Too long, in fact!


When does 1600 Penn premiere?

The series will debut as one of NBC's "special previews," with the pilot airing after The Voice's final performances on Monday, December 17 at 9:30pm. After that, 1600 Penn will return with Episode 2 on Thursday, January 10 in its regular Thursday-at-9:30pm slot.


Who created it?

Josh Gad, who starred in the Broadway version of The Book of Mormon, and former White House speechwriter Jon Lovett created the show, and Modern Family producer/director Jason Winer lent some expertise to the project. But the real bit of influence here comes from showrunner Mike Royce, the man behind TNT's excellent Men of a Certain Age and a producer on Everybody Loves Raymond, who was appointed the position after 1600 Penn's pilot.


Who's the target audience?

This is an easy-to-swallow series that fits into NBC's new "broader" comedy effort as it's safe for families and just about anyone. But how will it fit in the time period following The Office?


Let's hear the positives!

The concept behind the show—the president's wacky family dealing with normal family problems in an abnormal environment—is fantastic and opens up a ton of possibilities for a new twist on a tired premise. Instead of nosy neighbors stopping by, it's the president of Brazil or some European consulate, and instead of trying to get a promotion at work, dad is busy blowing up terrorist cells. There's also a heavier serialized aspect to the show that's not normally seen in comedy, as one character's problem form the backbone of the first three episodes. I don't know if the show will really work, but I get excited about anything that's vaguely different.


What should have been vetoed?

Gad was pronounced the next big thing in show business after The Book of Mormon but holy crap is he annoying here. His character Skip is something out of an Adam Sandler movie, and he's a bit of a wrecking ball for every scene he's in. Ugh, that screeching scream, make it stop! The pilot episode is also a busy mess, with scenes that just die jokeless, but there's vast improvement in the second and third episodes as the show finds more focus.


So should I watch it or not?

Look, I'm extra tough on comedies—so I'd say stay away because I didn't really care for it. However, there was enough improvement in the first three episodes for me to believe that the upward trend can continue, so I'm going to give it a chance. Just be warned, Gad is like a Chris Farley or a Jack Black on their off-est of off days.


Can I see a trailer?

Sort of! Here's a clip instead.


What would be a good accompanying beverage for 1600 Penn?

A fun spin on something sophisticated... try dumping a Pixie Stix into a martini.


1600 Penn debuts Monday, December 17 at 9:30pm on NBC.

Comments (59)
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Setting it at a "My god this is gonna suck" bar, it was only really bad when Gad was on-screen. If they shipped his character off to Abu Dhabi, or the Bermuda Triangle, this show isn't much worse than Veep, a show I like. Kick out Gad, and the show could work. *With* him, I give it 4 to 6 episodes....4 to 6 episodes more than it deserves.
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I watched it online and WOW it was grating and not good. I loved how they made a point at the end to say that the 2nd and 3rd episodes are SO much better than the pilot. And with a new showrunner taking over, I guess it could only get better. I might watch another to see how it improves, but Josh Gad is so unappealing, it's as if Jack Black and Jonah Hill had a baby that was born with only their most annoying, sweaty parts.
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This was probably the worst sitcom ever! Especially Josh Gad! After five minutes of his screeching, I was diving for the remote. How can NBC go back to the White House and up a bunch of idiots, especially Josh Gad's character there? After the West Wing!!!! This was horrible. Not to mention absolutely not funny. The worst is that the cast could be great (minus Josh Gad) but the whole concept and the whole idea and the "jokes" - awful, just awful. The White House is more serious than that! It is not a place where a family of Idiots can roam around, breaking things, putting things on fire. OMG! I truly hope it gets cancelled after the first episode!
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Since there's no review article yet, I'll post here as well. I agree. There was nothing smart, or close to anything like Modern Family in the pilot. A televised tennis match between world leaders? That only happens in sitcoms like this. The fact that this was the main plot of the episode shows little promise for this show. World leaders taking advise from the eccentric son of the the presidents doesn't seem so plausible too. Some of the reasons why sitcoms like Seinfeld and Modern Family are great because they can relate to everyday normal people. This show just seems like a cartoon but harder to believe and less funny.
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I agree with some previous users that this is bullshit, it will be cancelled in no time and Josh Gad is so boring and talentless... geez!!! I know him since Back to You aired back in 2008. Sorry, Josh sitcoms are not your piece.. stick to Broadway!
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Watched it... HATED IT!
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this show reminds me of undeclared
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This is the midseason show I am most excited for :)
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Then you haven't seen it yet...
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I actually said that before I saw it. I have seen it now, and I still agree.
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sounded like cory in the house. So I dont know
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The premise of this show sounded funny, way back when, but now I'm not so sure I want to watch it. Might give the pilot a go, maybe, if I'm not too hungover after 12 pubs of Christmas.
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(1) NBC sucks

(2) Josh Gad, fat unfunny annoying guy that network insists is funny

(3) Scientologist-- I'll pass on this garbage.
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Yawn. Another sad all-white cast unfunny sitcom. NBC you are full of suprises! Give some non-white actor any role, please. Yapher Kotto or Andre Braugher are geniuses. Give them something!
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Why can't it be an all-white cast? If it sucks, it'll be cancelled.
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I'll watch the first episode. If it sucks, it's out.
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its a good cast....would be good for them if the show survived to season 2
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im definitely gonna watch this show so excited to see it.
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Oh, it's out...
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where is the review of the latest episode of POI? I really wanted to know what you thought of it.... Thanks in advance.
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god, he REALLY IS annoying
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This really sounds very exciting. And I thought Tim was sounding too pessimistic. But then I watched the clip. Even from those 1:30, the character seemed a bit annoying. But I'll give it a 4 episode test.

I like the Indian kid tho. I think he also was in the movie Safety Not Guaranteed, which also starred Aubrey Plaza (April from Parks & Rec) and Jake Johnson (Nick from New Girl). A very funny and beautiful story.
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if Pullman does his speech from Independence day I'm hooked
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I'll probably check it out. I recognize most of the cast.
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Wow, a lot of comments about how it should be a black family. Since this show isn't about Obama, the odds of a First Family being non-white are currently 1 in 43; the odds of Bill Pullman portraying an on-screen President of the United States are at least twice that. Plus, I think if NBC had made this a black first family there would have been cries of playing the race card the opposite way, so there really is no win here... unless you make a show that includes Jeb Bush's Mexican wife and their half-hispanic children.
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why would there be outcry about race card? we don't have many black cast shows to complain about? actually we don't have any. zero. and it can be just diverse not all black. I don't care if they have black dad and white kids. it doesn't matter.
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If we had a black main cast doing this same kind of broad material, a lot of folks would be claiming they only put a black cast on TV because the current first family is black, not because NBC wanted to make the show.

Look at the broad material in this episode: a president who ignores politics and a potentially dangerous international situation merely to focus on his family; a goofy buffoon of a son who bumbles and embarrasses; a daughter who gets knocked up -- dumb yet toothless material when it's white actors, but imagine those roles played by black actors, there'd be cries of gross racial stereotypes on each one.

That's the way our world works, is it a double-standard? Probably, but only because cheap white racial stereotypes don't threaten anybody so they're easy to vomit onto the screen time and time again, other ethnicities actually have an image to protect. People are very sensitive to negative portrayals of non-white ethnicities perhaps because it's one more thing in the US that could hold them back.

And note that people are only clamoring for a black presidential sitcom, nobody is saying it should be hispanic or asian, so perhaps it really is a race-card issue, people only want to see what they're familiar with.
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ok, I can understand that but it still would've been nice to see.
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It'd be nice to see if it was well-developed and well-thought out, if someone was driven to do a Cosby Show-type of series with engaging, well-rounded characters and solid writing dynamics. Lazy cheap slapdash comedy like this show are white sitcom fodder, but audiences rail against them when they're black or hispanic shows - sometimes because they fall back on cheap racial stereotypes, and sometimes just because America doesn't have as much tolerance for other races on tv.
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the way the First Family looks screamed at me "this is a show about what would happen if Romney became President".
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Well, Bill Pullman's character does look white and constipated in that picture at the top of the article.
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Josh Gad is one of those comedic actors who throws far too much into the gag, they put so much into being a sweaty, clumsy, loud, goofy misfit that they forget about a little thing called "nuance". I found him tolerable on Back to You - where the writing and directing focused those elements in him into a character that was more than just a Jack Black cookie cutter character - but utterly intolerable on everything else I've seen of him, and the ads for this show are like that times a dozen.

If this show's promotional ads had only Josh Gad's character as the problem though, I might have given it a shot. However, Bill Pullman seems really stiff and unfunny in the ads, and Jenna Elfman (who hasn't really appeared in much of the marketing I've seen) is like nails on a chalkboard to me - same comedic notes, same faces, same limited range - so I'm going to stay as far away from this as I can. And that was before Tim's very short advice in the podcast the other day, which was a much more plausible "no".
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I said to myself, "As long as Gad isn't anything like Jack Black," so...darn. I can't watch HIMYM because of Ted, and that show's pretty funny at times. Since Gad's not the main character, maybe it'll be okay for me.
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They come up with shows like this, sounds reminiscent of That's My Bush (remember???)
But shows like The League get no love!
Hey Tim, why dont you ever pen something about The League!!!!!
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Big fan of both Elfman and Pullman, and have been looking forward to this. Hoping they fix the Gad issue. I think it'll be fun, though. I have "Community" (and possibly the now-rebeginning "Arrested Development") for the more intelligent humour, I want this to be fun, and I see no reason to believe that it won't be.
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Who cares what color they are? It's a brainless comedy, so why would anyone expect there to be an underlying educational agenda? You want that, watch Scandal.
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I like Josh Gad but this show is reminding me of Cory in the House from Disney channel. To me, its not really that funny when you're joking about the White House. Its too cliche and unfunny to me. I'll try to give it a chance though.
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Wow, just by looking at the picture on the front page of this site I thought, "this fat guy is annoying," and the clip just confirms it. And unfortunately he seems to be all over the place. Here's a suggestion, this guy is "so good" he deserves his own show. Which I will never watch.
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I think I'll pass.

And did we REALLY need to have another white president? Maybe that's just NBC's attempt at a "broader" appeal.
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Josh Gad is one of those actors that you either really like or really dislike. I am in the latter. I have never been able to stand him in any of his roles. Just not my thing, so I will be passing.
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So Gad was just as annoying as the trailers have suggested? Great. No watchee for me. These over-the-top obnoxious loudmouths only make shows look less funny, not more. I knew Animal Practice was DOA the moment I saw "Dancin'! Dancin' like a human!"

Just tell me this: Is this better or worse than "Cory in the House"?
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Shouldn't the family be black?
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Plot twist: They are black, but they masqueraded as whites to get the Republican vote.
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Fair enough. Obama masquerades as a Democrat to get the black vote. Eisenhower with bigger ears.
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Yes!!! I think we have another LOST on our hands
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what saddens me is that all cast is white as white can be again. why don't mix this family a bit? who cares if president dad is latino and wife is black and kids are white and asian? I don't care. I want "Louis CK thing" when people got roles coz of their talent not of their color skin. another white family crap who does want that? nobody. not in this time
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Maybe all the non-white actors were not as good as the white ones? But seriously, the Louis CK thing works for him and his show. It doesn't work for a regular show.
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I don't believe that there are no charismatic talented non-white actors out there. I bet they are even better. don't be so defensive all of a sudden about poor whites (whatever that means). I just see another show with white as white can be cast. And it makes me yarn. I want something unusual. some umpf. where are those promised post-racial tv shows? NBC old as f---- sorry)
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Josh Gad was great in The Rocker, with Rainn Wilson.
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That clip was moronic, idiotic, annoying and stupid to the extreme. There wasn't even the beginning of an inkling of a vague bit of "funny". No, no, and no.
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I'll probably give it a try, but my hopes aren't high or anything.
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if josh gad isn't playing a mentally challenged mormon, then i'm not on board
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We just call them "Mormons"
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Josh Gad was great in the short-lived MTV series Good Vibes. It appears people ignore how good of a show that was too. :(
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I was probably too busy ignoring MTV overall.
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I can't blame you. MTV is awful. Only good that comes from it was Beavis and Butt-head, Daria, Good Vibes, and Fur TV.
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I did like Beavis and Butt-head and Daria. And I currently watch Teen Wolf and awkward., but I can't honestly recommend those two. "Pretty good for MTV" comes to mind.
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Would be a lot better without Josh Gad.
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