Never Judge a Comedy by Its Pilot

selfieConfession:  I enjoyed last night’s episode of Selfie.

Last week, Whitney wrote a completely on point review of the pilot and all of her points were valid and true… about the pilot.  Even I killed it in my Marry Boff Kill of Fall TV, but it would seem that the show may improve on closer acquaintance.   In the show’s second episode, John Cho’s Henry showed some manic qualities, which are crucial in a TV comedy, and American Amy Pond… I mean, Karen Gillan’s Eliza was a better blend of self-absorbed and self-conscious.  Henry’s ineptness at Facebook tags had me guffawing, Eliza’s book club persona had me giggling (“Sorry, if I smell like dead people”), and their romantic chemistry is headed in the right direction.  There is nothing that is more likely to sway me than good romantic chemistry.  I am not ready to join the Selfie bandwagon, if such a thing exists, but I am ready to say that I may have judged too soon.

This would not be the first time I have judged a show too quickly, especially when it comes to the comedies.  I gave up on both The Mindy Project and Happy Endings after a few episodes and both have ended up being two of my favorites (though one causes me a lot more guilt than the other).

The fact of the matter is that, more so than dramas, a good comedy is all about chemistry among the cast and that is just going to take some time.  I say the following in generalities, but dramas you can judge by its pilot. Dramas are more about engaging story where the comedies are more about the laughs.  If a drama pilot is not able to establish a plot that at least intrigues with that first episode, chances are that they won’t do much better with their subsequent episodes.

Did anyone else give Selfie a second look?  What comedies did you give up on too early?  Is my theory about dramas completely off base?

– Ellen

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How Does ABC’s Selfie Suck? Let Me Count The Ways

I have one hard and fast rule about Fall TV season: no matter how much you may hate a pilot, it is VITAL that you make it to at least episode two. Because usually, the things we hate about pilots get ironed out during the first season. That is what first seasons are for. If the premise is good and the writing is solid, there is always room for hope. But some shows are so fundamentally flawed, so irreparably stupid that a second look only serves to draw out the inevitable and necessary cancellation. Selfie falls, face first, into this category just like Ellen said it would. Let’s break it down.

abc-selfie-eliza1) Eliza Dooley (Karen Gillan) might be the Worst, and not in a good way. I know that as one of Doctor Who‘s resident red heads, Amy Pond was kind of a polarizing character. And it is totally possible that I am projecting my dislike of The Girl Who Waited onto Eliza, a character with many of the same flaws that kept me from registering with the Amy Pond fan club (selfishness, over-confidence, tends to take others for granted). At least Amy was an interesting character; the most interesting thing about Eliza is her ability to fill two airplane yarf-bags. Which, when you think about it, really set the tone for the rest of the show.

2) Your main character should be redeemable, not reprehensible. By the end of the pilot, we should have had a reason to root for Eliza, and I don’t feel that we ever got it. Most of the attempts to add depth to her character were pretty weak (you mean, she was able to stash her distaste for the office hipster girls long enough to let them clean her apartment, loan her nice dresses, do her hair and make-up free of charge, and generally extend her an undeserved hand of friendship? What personal growth). If you are going to write horrible characters to populate your show, a la It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, at least make sure their horribleness is offset by their hilarity. Which brings me to…

3) Traditionally, TV comedies should be, you know, funny. If nothing else, Pilots should be clever enough to give audiences the idea that, even if the rest of the show isn’t prefect yet, the experience won’t be a total loss. Selfie did not make me laugh once, and I laugh at everything. Seriously. Everything.

4) Being unpopular in high school does not a tragic backstory make. Selfie isn’t the first show to try and make not being selfies-main-character-is-eliza-dooley-dooley-grew-up-being-most-butt-in-high-school-butt-as-in-ugly-so-she-modeled-herself-after-the-most-popular-girl-in-her-school-and-grew-up-to-be-beautiful-but-vapidthe most popular person in high school a credible excuse for sucking in the present, and it won’t be the last. TV comedies can still be fun and lighthearted even if they delve deeper than an unpleasant school dance experience. But Selfie is just as shallow as it’s main character, which is why I’ll be taking my business elsewhere. Better luck next year, ABC!

Whitney

Marry Boff Kill: New Fall 2014 TV Shows

You may not have noticed, but we love TV here at Fangirly.  Like, love love.  So much so that I attachments I form to my shows are lasting and real.  I thought I might try and predict which shows I want to spend my life with/have a one-night stand with/give the axe.

Marry:

gothamGotham – As Whitney so perfectly summed up yesterday, this show has some things working against, but from where I sit, it is one of the most promising of this new crop of shows.  I’m a little hesitant to tie myself to a show that is almost exclusively comprised of villains as that may get trying, but i have faith in the human decency of Baby Commissioner Gordon.

marry meMarry Me – Do you know what else I have faith in?  The creative team behind Happy Endings.  Comedies always take a bit longer to find their groove, so even if I am not sold on this one within the first few episodes, I am going to stick with it.  I initially gave up on Happy Endings after the first couple of episodes.  It makes me weep to think about how I was part of the problem.  I will not do the same thing to this show.  If only for the possibility that someday the whole cast of Happy Endings will guest star as Wilson’s old college friends or something.  Have I mentioned that I love Happy Endings?

the flashThe Flash – Those smarty-pants at DC Comics and The CW know how to guarantee an audience for a new show.  Just air a back door pilot during a show that already has a rabid fan base and then guarantee crossover episodes for years to come so that said fan base has no choice but to also watch the new show.  I also saw this pilot at Comic Con and it promises to be a fun, poppy, comic book romp.

Boff:

janethevirgin_pilot_1_1200_article_story_largeJane the Virigin – I am not just picking this because it is humorous to boff the “virgin show”. Back when the promo for this show came out, it would have gotten a kill, but early buzz is pretty good with great reviews for star Gina Rodriguez and it is not too hard to convince me to watch a sweet CW show.

Mulaney – Please be good, Mulaney, please be good.  There is a lot riding on this one for me.  If it is good, I will get a weekly dose of John Mulaney’s patented blend of dorky, pop culture infused stand up.  If it is bad, I will cry.  The multi-cam format with a laugh track has me worried but I am trying to be optimistic.

gracepointGracepoint – I haven’t yet gotten around to watching the UK source material, Broadchurch, but I feel like that may work in my favor for this US version.  Bonus boffability points for David Tennant with an American accent. I’m weirdly into it.

Kill:

selfieSelfie –  There is so much here that I want to like.  I mean, Karen Gillan in a My Fair Lady retelling?  What’s not to like? I don’t know but this looks kind of stupid.

Scorpion – CBS hammered the final nail in this show’s coffin when it obnoxiously self-promoted on my beloved Big Brother.  Stay out of my trashy television!

Cristela – This show seems to be cashing in on the ethnically-diverse-female-who-pokes-fun-at-her-weight card that Mindy is already working.

 

Ellen

 

Choice Picks: New Fall Shows You Should Get Excited About NOW

Sunday

Mulaney (Fox) 9:30

Wait, I’m confused. If the show is supposed to be named after him, then why isn’t it called Whitney’s Future Husband?

Monday

Gotham (Fox) 8:00

I wish I could say this was the first time I’ve been sexually attracted to The Penguin.

Tuesday

Selfie (ABC) 8:00

Amy Pond stars in a My Fair Lady retelling. I’ve told you all you need to know.

The Flash (CW) 8:00

You got to hand it to the CW, they know when they’ve found a winning formula: cute boy + comic book premise – waiting months and months for next installments.

Marry Me (NBC) 9:00

Full Disclosure- I have no idea what this show is about. They had me at Casey Wilson. And they really had me at Ken Marino. In summation, they really have me.

Forever (ABC) 10:00

Ioan Gruffudd stars as a medical examiner who enjoys a fulfilling career and a normal human lifespan. Oh, scratch that, he lives forever. I gotta learn how to pick up on context clues.

Thursday

Gracepoint (Fox) 9:00

From what I can tell, David Tennant stars in the US version of last years Broadchurch, which also starred David Tennant. Hey, reduce, reuse, recycle.

A to Z (NBC) 9:30

My only hope for this show is that Cristin Milioti doesn’t die at the end of the 9th season. Sorry, too soon?

How to Get Away with Murder (ABC) 10:00

Ironically, Viola Davis probably could get away with murder.

-Whitney