Tuesday, September 27, 2011

ABC Fall Pilot Review: Suburgatory - Premieres September 28; This Week's Up All Night and Whitney, Premieres On Yahoo!

Suburgatory

Suburgatory - Wednesdays 8:30PM ET/PT on ABC
Premieres Wednesday, September 28, 2011 at 8:30PM ET/PT

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 both 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.

Tessa (Jane Levy) and George (Jeremy Sisto) have been on their own ever since Tessa's mom pulled a "Kramer vs. Kramer" before Tessa was even potty trained. So far George has done a pretty good job of raising Tessa without a maternal figure in their lives, but suddenly he's feeling a little out of his league. So it's goodbye New York City and hello suburbs. At first Tessa is horrified by the big-haired, fake-boobed mothers and their sugar-free, Red Bull-chugging kids. But little by little, she and her dad begin finding a way to survive on the clean streets of the 'burbs. Sure, the neighbors might smother you with love while their kids stare daggers at your back, but underneath all that plastic and caffeine, they're really not half bad. And they do make a tasty pot roast.


Cast Details:

* Jeremy Sisto as George Altman
* Jane Levy as Tessa Altman
* Carly Chaikin as Dalia Royce
* Rex Lee as Mr. Wolfe
* Alan Tudyk as Noah Lerner
* Cheryl Hines as Dallas Royce

Ana Gasteyer guest stars as neighbor Sheila Shay. Jay Mohr appears in the recurring role as Steven Royce, Dallas' (Cheryl Hines) husband.

Jeremy Sisto (Gregory Altman) is probably best known for playing Billy Chenowith on Alan Ball's Six Feet Under for five years, a role which Ball wrote for him. Last year he finished a three year run on Law & Order as Detective Cyrus Lupo. He was also the lead in the short-lived but critically acclaimed Jason Smilovic show, Kidnapped, and played the title role in the two miniseries Jesus and Julius Caesar. Sisto makes his first foray into single-camera comedy Suburgatory. Sisto's film credits are eclectic and date back to the early '90s with titles such as Grand Canyon, Clueless, Hideaway, Moonlight and Valentino, White Squall, Without Limits, Suicide Kings, Thirteen, Wrong Turn and Waitress. He is in two upcoming releases, As Cool As I Am with Claire Danes and James Marsden, and Robot and Frank with Frank Langella and Liv Tyler.

Jane Levy (Tessa Altman) grew up in Northern California. Though the acting bug bit her early on (she starred in community theater productions of Annie and The Wizard of Oz) in high school, she was the captain of the varsity soccer team and on the hip hop dance team. She also excelled in chemistry. After a semester in the liberal arts program at Baltimore's Goucher College, Levy moved to New York to pursue acting at the Stella Adler Conservatory. Two years later she moved to Los Angeles, and in a few weeks booked a five-episode arc as a trampy teen vixen in the John Wells Showtime series, Shameless (with William H. Macy). A round of general meetings with film and television executives led to her being cast as the lead in Suburgatory. Levy also recently appeared in her first feature, Nobody Walks,and she is currently shooting Josh Schwartz's debut feature film, Fun Size, with Victoria Justice and Chelsea Handler.

Carly Chaikin (Dalia Royce) made her big screen debut in The Last Song starring alongside Greg Kinnear, Kelly Preston, Liam Hemsworth and Miley Cyrus. She also appeared in the independent comedies The Consultants and My Uncle Rafael. More recently Chaikin wrapped on the indy horror film Escapee, in which she starred with Dominic Purcell and Faith Ford.

Rex Lee (Mr. Wolfe) plays Lloyd, the engaging and extremely funny assistant to Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven), on HBO's Entourage. When Lee landed that role, it was a four-episode arc. His portrayal of Lloyd was so well received that the role was expanded and he was added as a series regular. The hit show returned this summer for its eighth and final season. In addition to receiving three SAG Award cast nominations, Lee's performance won him the 2007 and 2008 Asian Excellence Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in Television and the "KoreAm" Achievement in Entertainment Award in 2007. He has guest starred in a number of TV shows, including Dave's World, Son of the Beach, Lucky and Andy Richter Controls the Universe, and has appeared in numerous commercials.

Allie Grant (Lisa Shay) has wanted to be an actress for as long as she can remember. At the age of 10 she was cast in the role of Isabella Hodes on the Showtime hit Weeds, and shares 2007 and 2009 Screen Actors Guild nominations for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series. Grant played Elizabeth Perkins' daughter on the show for five seasons. She has also guest starred on Private Practice.

Alan Tudyk (Noah Lerner) recently completed work in Fox's Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, playing Stephen A. Douglas, and will be seen in Paramount's feature film, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, playing the role of Dutch. Tudyk quickly became a sought-after comedic actor following films like Knocked Up, 28 Days, A Knight's Tale and Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story. Additional film credits include 3:10 to Yuma,"Death at a Funeral, I, Robot, Beautiful Boy, Serenity, Ice Age: The Meltdown and Ice Age 2: The Meltdown. Additional television credits include Firefly and Dollhouse for creator Joss Whedon, V, Arrested Development and Strangers with Candy.

Cheryl Hines (Dallas Royce) is a two-time Emmy nominee for her role as Cheryl David on HBO's Golden Globe Award-winning series, Curb Your Enthusiasm, the brainchild of Seinfeld co-creator Larry David. Hines' most recent television project was as executive producer of the NBC Television Series School Pride, a proactive, alternative series that told the stories of communities coming together to renovate their aging and broken public schools. The cameras followed students, teachers and parents as they rolled up their sleeves and rebuilt their own schools, concluding with the unveiling of a brand new, completely transformed school. Additional television projects included a major story arc on ABC's drama series Brothers & Sisters and a starring role opposite Megan Mullally in ABC's In the Motherhood, a single camera comedy series chronicling the hilarious ups and downs of motherhood.


Pilot Plot:

#1 "Pilot" (Airs September 28, 2011)
When single dad George moves 16-year-old daughter Tessa out of their NYC apartment to a house in the suburbs, it's because he wants a better place for her to spend her teen years. Tessa and George have been on their own ever since Tessa's mom pulled a "Kramer vs. Kramer." So far George has done a pretty good job of raising Tessa, but lately he's feeling a little out of his league, especially after he finds a pack of condoms in her room. So it's goodbye New York City and hello suburbs. At first Tessa is horrified by the big-haired, fake-boobed mothers and their sugar-free, Red Bull-chugging kids. But she and her dad slowly begin to find ways to survive, and while being in the 'burbs certainly can be hell, it also may just bring Tessa and George closer than they've ever been.

Guest starring are Ana Gasteyer as Sheila Shay, Maestro Harrell as Malik, Arden Myrin as Jocelyn and Ryan Shay as Parker Young.
"Pilot" was written by Emily Kapnek and directed by Michael Fresco.


Analysis:

The difference between the suburbs and Manhattan are the moms. And man are these suburb moms wild. This comedy takes a hilarious look at the differences between the city and suburbs. We see a father and daughter move from Manhattan to the suburbs in Connecticut, after finding a box of unopened condoms in his teenage daughter's room. But of course they weren't hers. They move to the suburbs anyway. We are shown right away that the daughter, Tessa, is having trouble adapting to the change. She notices the plastic smiles, the use of sugar-free Red Bull, plenty of nose-jobs, and stay at home mom's who drive their kids places. The father makes friends with Dallas Royce, who is the mother of Dalia Royce, a typical suburban teenager. Dalia was appointed as Tessa's "buddy" by the school guidance counselor, Mr. Wolfe, but Tessa hates Dalia. There is one girl in the school that seems like Tessa, but she avoids Tessa at first and calls her a "lesbian" like everyone else. Later they become friends and Tessa finds out who her mom is. Won't give away who. There is also a "diversity student" named Malik and that short scene will make you laugh out loud!

Jane Levy, who plays Tessa Harper, works well with every single character. I couldn't stop laughing when Tessa turned into a "mall skank" when her father's friend, Noah, comes over for dinner. Her facial expressions are priceless! It will be interesting to see the dynamic between the Royce family and Altman family. Will Tessa realize maybe these people are all not that bad? Tessa also realizes that her father is also "stuck" in "suburgatory," too. How will he survive all these moms drooling over him? You'll have to watch yourself! Jeremy Sisto does a great job as Tessa's dad and so does Cheryl Hines as Dallas Royce. The cast is great and it is refreshing that a newcomer is leading the pack so well.


Conclusion:

This is a strong pilot. It is hilarious and it sets up the series very well. Jane Levy is a star in the making and she is really good in this as Tessa Harper. It is the best comedy pilot of the fall, with the highest review rating so far that we have given this season. It has funny and witty lines throughout and Jane Levy is hilarious in every scene. She reminds me of Amy Davidson, who played Kerry on 8 Simple Rules. They both are great actors and they look alike, too. I am hoping we see Amy guest star this season.

The series is perfectly placed in between The Middle and Modern Family and has a good chance of doing well in the ratings. Why? Because it has the same style as those shows and the clever writing, too. Just how Brick and Sue broke out on The Middle, Tessa on this show is a character to watch. I can't wait for more episodes of this series. Turn on your automatic sprinklers and be prepared to file restraining orders, because you are headed into suburgatory! You'll never know what to expect, but one thing is for sure...you'll laugh!


Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):

Watchability: 4/5
Funniness: 4/5
Overall: 4/5

-- Reviewed by Pavan on 09/27/11

Discuss the show after you watch it on Wednesday, September 28 on our message board.

Related Links:

  • ABC.com Official Site
  • TV.com
  • epguides.com
  • Internet Movie Database
  • Wikipedia
  • Suburgatory Photo Gallery

    Preview:





    NBC will partner with Yahoo! to offer exclusive original episodes of its new comedies -- Up All Night (Wednesdays, 8-8:30 p.m. ET) and Whitney (Thursdays, 9:30-10 p.m. ET) -- that will be streamed and promoted on the site prior to the regular network broadcast beginning this morning (Tuesday, September 27). The exclusive first look at this Wednesday's (September 28) episode of Up All Night features guest stars Will Forte and Jorma Taccone, both from Saturday Night Live. As Chris (Will Arnett) tries to get Reagan (Christina Applegate) to bring the sexy back into their relationship with some advice from his new friend Reed (Forte). Meanwhile, when Ava (Maya Rudolph) finds out her ex-boyfriend, B-Ro (Taccone), is getting married, she blames Reagan for the advice she gave her that caused them to break up.
    Viewers streaming Whitney will get an advance look this Thursday's (September 29) which features happily unmarried couple Whitney (Whitney Cummings) and Alex (Chris D'Elia) also finding new ways to keep it sexy. When Whitney realizes that she and Alex have never gone on an official first date she comes up with an unusual idea to recreate the past. Taking this role-play very seriously -- as only Whitney can -- she insists that they both follow the "rules" of a first date, including pretending that they don't know each other. Thus the two awkwardly go to dinner and cap off the night by sleeping in separate apartments. Continuing the charade into the next day the two turn to their friends to plot their next moves.
    In addition to the exclusive premieres, users can access previously broadcast episodes of Up All Night (so far the first 2 episodes) and Whitney (so far the pilot episode) on Yahoo! If your TV schedule is busy on Wednesday and Thursday, you might want to watch these premieres on Yahoo!, as you can watch at anytime your want.

  • New on DVD/Blu-ray (October/November/December)

    2 Broke Girls - The Complete Third Season Two and a Half Men - The Complete Eleventh Season WKRP in Cincinnati - The Complete Series Hot in Cleveland - Season Five Sgt. Bilko - The Phil Silvers Show - The Complete Series
    Family Ties - The Complete Series Happy Days - The Sixth Season The Jeffersons - The Complete Series Mister Ed - The Complete Series Mork & Mindy - The Complete Series

    10/07 - The Dick Van Dyke Show - Classic Christmas Episodes
    10/07 - The Flying Nun - The Complete First and Second Seasons (Mill Creek)
    10/07 - The Middle - The Complete Fifth Season (Warner Archive)
    10/07 - The Office - The Complete Series
    10/07 - The Wonders Years - Season One
    10/10 - The Wonder Years - The Complete Series - Read Our Review / The Signature Edition / Seasons 1-3
    10/14 - 2 Broke Girls - The Complete Third Season
    10/14 - Two and a Half Men - The Complete Eleventh Season
    10/21 - Married with Children - Seasons 5 and 6 (Mill Crek)
    10/21 - The Soul Man - The Complete Second Season
    10/21 - Square Pegs - The Complete Series (Mill Creek)
    10/28 - WKRP in Cincinnati - The Complete Series
    11/04 - Hot in Cleveland - Season Five
    11/04 - Napoleon Dynamite - The Complete Animated Series
    11/04 - Sgt. Bilko (The Phil Silvers Show) - The Complete Series
    11/11 - Dads - The Complete Series
    11/11 - Family Ties - The Complete Series
    11/11 - My Favorite Martian - Best of Collection
    11/11 - Taxi - The Complete Series
    11/11 - Wings - The Complete Series (Mill Creek)
    11/18 - King of the Hill - The Complete Seventh Season / The Complete Eighth Season
    11/25 - Better Off Ted - The Complete Second Season
    12/02 - Happy Days - The Sixth Season
    12/09 - Barney Miller - The Complete Sixth Season
    12/09 - The Jeffersons - The Complete Series
    12/09 - Mister Ed - The Complete Series
    12/09 - Mork & Mindy - The Fourth Season / The Complete Series
    12/16 - The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis - The Final (Fourth) Season
    12/23 - My Favorite Martian - Season Two - Collector's Edition
    More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


    Sitcoms Airing Tonight

    Wednesday, October 29

    The Middle - "Halloween V" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
    It's Halloween night, and Frankie and Mike are stunned – and a bit scared -- to learn that Brick has invited a girl over to the house just to hang with him. Meanwhile, to help supplement her college fund, Sue attempts to put together a pumpkin patch screening of the animated classic, “It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,” and Axl reluctantly goes to the library to write a history paper and ironically gets locked inside after staying past closing hours.

    The Goldbergs - "Family Takes Care of Beverly" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
    When Pops accidentally starts a fire in his apartment during a Halloween party, he’s evicted and Beverly invites him to move into the Goldbergs’ home. Pops’ wild lifestyle is soon too much for the family to handle and they decide to look into other options. Meanwhile, Barry stops Erica from eating Pop Rocks candy with soda, since according to urban legend, the combination would kill her. Since he “saves” her, Barry wants something in return from Erica.

    Modern Family - "Halloween 3: AwesomeLand" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT)
    Even though Halloween is Claire’s holiday, she allows Phil to take over this year so instead of her usual fright-fest theme, he decides to turn the house into AwesomeLand! Gloria picks out Princess Fiona and Shrek costumes for her and Jay but Jay decides he wants to be Prince Charming complete with a full head of gorgeous hair, and with the hair comes a new sense of confidence. Elsewhere, Cameron gets overwhelmed by the day’s activities and Mitchell has closing arguments for a huge case, and it doesn’t help that the stenographer is dressed like a spider.

    black-ish - "The Prank King" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
    Dre fears his holiday fun will be ruined when the older kids balk at the glorious Johnson Halloween tradition of seeing who can pull the most outlandish pranks on each other.

    The League - "Taco Standard Time" (FXX, 10:00PM ET/PT)
    Taco takes on the end of Daylight Savings Time. The guys try to help Lane (Zach Woods) during a difficult time. Andre and his cat M'Lady are on the rocks.

    Tyler Perry's For Better or Worse - "Please Say Yes" (OWN, 9:00PM ET/PT)
    Joseph tries to come up with a proposal idea for Leslie; he finds himself struggling with the preparation.

    Complete TV Listings


    Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of October 27) (All times ET unless noted)

    Wednesday, October 29

    • Jon Cryer (Two and a Half Men) - Watch Jon on Conan at 11pm on TBS. He will also appear with Ashton Kutcher on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
    • Zooey Deschanel (New Girl) - Zooey performs with M. Ward on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
    • Will Arnett (The Millers/Up All Night/Arrested Development) - Will appears on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
    • Lisa Kudrow (Friends/The Comeback) - Lisa visits Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
    • Michael J. Fox (The Michael J. Fox Show/Spin City/Family Ties and Tracy Pollan (Family Ties) - Michael and Tracy are guests on Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo. Tracy also joins the Chew Crew on ABC's The Chew at 1pm ET/12pm PT/CT.
    • Justin Long (Mom/Ed) - Justin drops by The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson at 12:37am on CBS.
    • Tone Bell (Bad Judge) - Tone is a guest on Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
    • Ashton Kutcher (Two and a Half Men/That '70s Show) - Ashton appears on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
    • Jennie Garth (Mystery Girls/What I Like About You) - Jennie reveals behind the scenes secrets of 90210, how she became a DIY queen and life post divorce on The Meredith Vieira Show, so check your local listings.
    • Sherri Shepherd (Less Than Perfect/Sherri) - Sherri stops by The Queen Latifah Show on your local station or at 2am on BET.
    • Tyler Ritter (The McCarthys) - Tyler talks about his new comedy series The McCarthys on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
    • Debra Messing (Will & Grace) - Debra and Rach take on their stickiest challenge yet – a grape-stomping competition - on Rachael Ray, so check your local listings.
    • Kyra Sedgwick (Brooklyn Nine-Nine) - Kyra talks about Brooklyn Nine-Nine on NBC's Today in the 9am hour.
    • Soleil Moon Frye (Punky Brewster/Sabrina, the Teenage Witch) - Soleil will be on NBC's Today in the 9am hour.
    • Fran Drescher (The Nanny/Happily Divorced) - Fran talks about Chicken Soup for the Soul: Find Your Inner Strength on NBC's Today in the 10am hour.
    • Nick Jonas (Jonas L.A.) - Nick is a guest on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.
    • Anthony Anderson (black-ish/Guys with Kids/All About the Andersons) - Anthony appears on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.