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.
STARRING AND CREATED BY: The cast includes David Walton (Bent), Minnie Driver (Good Will Hunting, The Riches), Benjamin Stockham (1600 Penn) as the titular boy, and Al Madrigal (The Daily Show). It's an adaptation of the 2002 movie starring Hugh Grant, which itself was an adaptation of Nick Hornby's 1998 novel. Jason Katims (Friday Night Lights, Parenthood) ushered the series to television and wrote the pilot, and Jon Favreau (Iron Man) directed it.
THE GIST: In San Francisco, man-child and horny bro-dude Will (Walton) drums up a friendship with his neighbor's 11-year-old son, Marcus (Stockham). But Marcus's single mother Fiona is a vegan who's into meditating her problems away, and she's not too fond of Will's influence on Marcus. UH-OH! Do you see where this is going?
SNAP JUDGMENT: The book was great, the movie was pretty good, the television show is not the movie or the book. The pilot is essentially a rote rom-com condensed into 22 minutes, with no time spent on developing characters beyond their one-word descriptions (he likes meat, she likes seitan, he likes to bang blondes, she weeps over her difficult single-mom life). Walton's definitely a talent, but this probably isn't the role to make him a household name. And Driver is way too good to play a crying single mom. Finally, if you're looking for laughs? Not here. This is an example of NBC's broad-comedy initiative. The kid's okay, though!
PILOTITIS DIAGNOSIS: About a Boy's pilot really feels like a pilot given the awful gender-specific roles the show gives its characters to play. In fact, both Will and Fiona are pretty much insufferable for most of the episode as the man who thinks with his penis and the woman who's an anal-retentive, joyless bore. It's shocking that someone like Katims, who regularly delivers multidimensional characters on his other shows, would write these stereotypes. Yeah, it's just the pilot, but eesh. Not a good start.
FACES TO LOOK OUT FOR: Madrigal is hilarious, but he only has a few small bits in the pilot. Walton is the guy with the most potential to break out, though after a great run on the surprising Bent.
RANDOM THOUGHTS: It's always great to see shows set in San Francisco that actually shoot in San Francisco (I assume regular episodes will be filmed elsewhere due to $$$). The pilot features a real eye-roller of an ending.
EXCITEMENT LEVEL: About the same as a dentist visit. If we're putting a number on this, let's say 3 out of 10.
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. About a Boy - Jason Katims' TV adaptation of the film adaption of Nick Hornby's novel about a man-boy friendship
AIRED ON 5/13/2014
Season 1 : Episode 13