Just after fall schedules are determined at networks' upfront presentations in late May, major networks send the pilots of their new programs to the media. These previews are not for in-depth review, because many pilots are retooled, recast, and reshot before they officially debut, and the final product might be much different. But that doesn't mean we can't share some basic ideas of what to expect!
The Show: Suburgatory on ABC, which will air Wednesdays at 8:30pm beginning on September 28. The series has also been picked up by Canada's Citytv.
ABC's official logline: "Single father George only wants the best for his 16-year-old daughter, Tessa. So when he finds a box of condoms on her nightstand, he moves them out of their apartment in New York City to a house in the suburbs. But all Tessa sees is the horror of over-manicured lawns and plastic Franken-moms. Being in the 'burbs can be hell, but it also may just bring Tessa and George closer than they've ever been."
Early Intel: Creator/producer Emily Kapnek has been a consulting producer on Parks and Recreation and the criminally under-watched Aliens in America, so she's got some experience putting the suburbs on TV. And ABC has tinkered with the series since shooting the pilot, recently promoting Rex Lee (Entourage) and Ana Gasteyer (Saturday Night Live) to recurring roles.
First Thoughts: Wow, that's a lot of voice-over narration. There are at least five likable cast members here, but only one joke.
What the series has going for it: A country girl moving to the big city is old news, but a city girl moving to the suburbs is just barely stale in the grand scheme of things. The cast is familiar in a good way, and newcomer Levy handles the spotlight like Ellen Page Jr. I guess that's a good thing?
Room for Improvement: Where to start? The pilot is basically 22 minutes of explaining how the 'burbs are different (in a bad way) from the big city, even though things are pretty clear by about two minutes in. After watching the pilot, there's no telling where the show is going to do or where it could go. Finally, Suburgatory suffers from trying to make its main characters likable by making its supporting characters unlikable. And that just makes everyone seem kind of meh.
The Coolest Part of the Early Version: There are shots of Tessa walking around in what are clearly some non-suburbban areas of Los Angeles. Nice try with the trickery, Hollywood!
Last Word: Without a serious makeover, I don't think Suburagtory has the legs to remain interesting for more than a handful of episodes.
Here's ABC's official trailer for the series:
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Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom