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.

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