Tuesday, September 30, 2014

ABC Fall Pilot Review: Manhattan Love Story - Premieres Tuesday, Sept. 30; ABC Family Picks Up Young & Hungry for 2nd Season, and New Drama

Manhattan Love Story

Manhattan Love Story - Tuesdays at 8:30PM ET/PT on ABC
Premieres Tuesday, September 30, 2014 at 8:30PM ET/PT


by Todd

Manhattan Love Story is an innovative new romantic comedy based on a simple premise: the way to maintain relationships – with a lover, a spouse, a co-worker, a friend or a family – is by keeping a majority of thoughts to one’s self. Dana (Analeigh Tipton, Crazy, Stupid, Love) and Peter (Jake McDorman, Greek, Shameless), who navigate the complicated terrain of building and maintaining a relationship, are the heart of the story. Throughout the series, the audience will hear Dana and Peter’s inner thoughts, offering a fun and revealing look at the differences of men and women as this couple traverse the highs and lows of dating.

Cast Details:

Analeigh Tipton as Dana
Jake McDorman as Peter
Nicolas Wright as David
Jada Catta-Preta as Amy
Chloe Wepper as Chloe
Kurt Fuller as William

Analeigh Tipton (Dana) is known for her roles in the films Crazy, Stupid, Love and Warm Bodies. Her other recent and upcoming film credits include Damsels in Distress, Two Night Stand, Lucy, 4 Minute Mile and Mississippi Grind. She had a recurring role in the final season of Hung.

Jake McDorman (Peter) is best known for his role as Evan Chambers in Greek and as Mike Pratt in Shameless. He had regular roles in the sitcoms Quintuplets and Are You There, Chelsea?. His film credits include Aquamarine, Bring It On: All or Nothing and Live Free or Die Hard.

Nicolas Wright (David) co-starred in the Jenna Elfman sitcom Accidentally on Purpose in 2009. His film credits include Hatley High, Afghan Luke and White House Down.

Jada Catta-Preta (Amy) is a writer, actress and stand-up comedian. She is best known for her recurring role in Californication. Her other guest starring roles include 2 Broke Girls and Sullivan & Son.

Chloe Wepper (Chloe) makes her debut as a series regular in Manhattan Love Story. Her credits include the TV movie Counseling Crazy and a guest appearance in Criminal Minds.

Kurt Fuller (William) had lead roles in ABC's Better with You and Big Day. Some of his many television credits include Glee, Ugly Betty, CSI, Men of a Certain Age, Grey's Anatomy, House, My Name Is Earl, Monk and Drop Dead Diva. His film credits include Wayne's World, Anger Management, Midnight in Paris, Scary Movie, Ghostbusters II and Auto Focus.

Pilot Plot:

"Pilot" (Tuesday, Sept. 30 at 8:30PM ET/PT)

The audience is introduced to Dana and Peter: young, single and attractive making their way in the big city. Dana grew up in a small town with her sights set on New York romanticizing about the life and love it had to offer while Peter, by contrast, grew up there and feels like he has been there and done that when it comes to life in Manhattan. Dana is determined to succeed in New York in both business and love, while Peter is perfectly content to go on dating his way through it. While it is the streets of New York that offers this duo a first glimpse of each other, it’s family and friends who conspire to set them up. The audience will go along for the ride as they venture on their first date and hear exactly what they really think of each other.

Analysis:

Manhattan Love Story is a single-camera comedy produced by ABC Studios. The series was created and is written by Jeff Lowell (The Drew Carey Show, Spin City). Peter Traugott, Jeff Lowell, Robin Schwartz, Rachel Kaplan and Jon Liebman are executive producers. Michael Fresco directed the pilot.

In the "Pilot" episode, we are introduced to Peter checking out women on the streets of New York. Meanwhile, Dana looks at the purses of various women. They first catch a quick glimpse of each other. Dana talks to her college roommate Amy and her husband Peter about going to her first day of work. They want to set her up on a date with Peter, who is David's brother. After Dana and Peter check out each other's profile pictures, Dana meets her boss and co-workers. Dana and Peter text each other and talk on the phone. Their blind date gets off to a bit of a rough start. Dana mentions that she has a bucket list of locations she wants to visit and things she wants to do in New York City. After hearing about the problems of the date, Amy and David try to convince Peter to try again. Peter later helps Dana cross two items off her bucket list.

The "Pilot" episode provides a good introduction to the characters and sets up the basic premise of the show. They did a nice job of squeezing in many different locations and about 15 scenes into the episode. It's a decent episode and has a few funny moments, but there were no outrageously funny lines or moments. There is a good mix of comedy and heart, but they could definitely use more comedic situations.

They have put together a cast of relative newcomers with some experienced veterans. Analeigh Tipton is a fresh face who I remember from her scene-stealing role as the babysitter in Crazy, Stupid, Love.. She certainly could be one of the breakout stars of the fall season. Jake McDorman has appeared in a variety of television series. He does a good job of playing "the dude" and player here. The other actors really don't stand out in the pilot. Their characters need to be further developed and become more likable. The family set up is a bit complicated. The father has been married three times. The children all have different mothers. A disappointment is that Kurt Fuller, the father and the owner of the business, has only a brief scene. He was very funny in Better with You and brings a veteran comedy presence to the show. The series would benefit greatly by expanding his role in future episodes.

One of the storytelling devices of the series is that we can hear the inner thoughts of Dana and Peter. Narration in shows isn't rare these days, but they have put a unique spin on it here. I thought it was too gimmicky and overdone in the pilot episode. Tipton and McDorman have expressive faces, so I think it would work better in moderation. They did tone it down a bit in the second episode. I wouldn't want to see them eliminate it entirely, but they need to find the right balance and situations in which to use it. If they overuse it, then it could become annoying to viewers.

The series is filmed in New York. It would have been easy for them to shoot a few exterior shots in New York City and the rest in Los Angeles, but filming on the real streets and locations adds to the flavor and authenticity. It's one of the most iconic romantic cities. New York City is really like the 7th character of the show. Dana's bucket list of locations she wants to visit will allow them to go to various locations around the city. Dana and Peter visit one of the most famous tourist attractions at the end of the episode.

Conclusion:

Manhattan Love Story has a simple premise of a small-town woman dating and eventually falling in love with a New York City native. Although the pilot is watchable and has a few funny moments, there are really no laugh-out-loud lines or scenes. It's supposed to be fun to watch people fall in love. Hopefully they show more of that in future episodes. The show does have some potential and good things working in its favor. Analeigh Tipton is cute and has a fresh face. Her Dana character is very likable and somebody you want to see succeed. Tipton and McDorman have some good chemistry already in the first two episodes. Another plus is that the show is filmed in New York. If you want to film a romantic comedy, there are few better places.

The show would benefit from a few tweaks. The inner thoughts storytelling technique is too gimmicky and overused in the pilot. It gets old and annoying fairly quickly. You only get one chance to make a good first impression. The inner thoughts technique could be an immediate turn-off to some viewers. Thankfully they did tone it down a bit in the second episode airing next week. Another issue is that the talented and funny Kurt Fuller is way underutilized. The show needs more funny lines and situations. He can help deliver them.

This looks to be the year of the romantic comedy series on television. ABC has paired it with Selfie on Tuesday nights. They appear to be good matches because of their references to social media, texting and internet speak. There haven't been any successful and long-running romantic comedies in recent years other than Mike & Molly and New Girl. I think they generally work better as 90-minute films. They really don't stretch well into full series. Manhattan Love Story is airing in a challenging timeslot, so it will be difficult for them to attract a large audience. They have a good cast in place, but they will just need more time to develop the supporting characters and funnier storylines.

Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):

Watchability: 2.5/5
Funniness: 2/5
Overall: 2.5/5

Discuss the show after you watch it on Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014 at 8:30PM ET/PT on our message board.

Related Links:

  • ABC.com Official Site
  • TV.com
  • epguides.com
  • Internet Movie Database
  • Wikipedia
  • Manhattan Love Story Photo Gallery

    Preview:





  • Young & Hungry

    ABC Family announced the network has picked up its first procedural drama Stitchers to series and has ordered a second season of new comedy series Young & Hungry. But in some sad news, the sitcom Mystery Girls has been canceled. Stitchers is a procedural drama series written by Jeffrey A. Schechter. Stitchers follows a young woman recruited into a covert government agency to be ‘stitched’ into the minds of the recently deceased using their memories to investigate murders and decipher mysteries that otherwise would have gone to the grave. The pilot was written by Jeffrey A. Schechter, who will executive produce alongside Jonathan Baruch and Rob Wolken.

    Young & Hungry is an original comedy series where two worlds collide when Josh, a wealthy young entrepreneur, hires feisty Gabi to be his personal chef. Young & Hungry is produced by David Holden, Ashley Tisdale, Jessica Rhoades, Caryn Lucas and Eric Tannenbaum and Kim Tannenbaum in association with CBS Television Studios. Gabi Moskowitz, a San Francisco based food blogger, of BrokeAssGourmet.com, contributed to the development of this project. The show stars Emily Osment, Jonathan Sadowski, Aimee Carrero, Kym Whitley, and Rex Lee. Young & Hungry ranks as basic cable's #1 telecast in its time period in Adults 18-34, and Women 18-34, as well as other key demos. The show was nominated for two Teen Choice Awards for Choice Summer TV Show, and Choice Summer TV Star – Female for Emily Osment.


    Sitcoms Airing Tonight

    Monday, October 15

    The Neighborhood - "Welcome to the Spare Key" (CBS, 8:00PM ET/PT)
    Dave gives Calvin a spare key to the Johnsons’ house in case of an emergency and is pleasantly surprised when the gesture is reciprocated – or so he thinks.

    Happy Together - "Let's Work It Out" (CBS, 8:30PM ET/PT)
    When Cooper has to get in shape for an underwear ad, Jake and Claire are inspired to ditch their junk food and join his ultra-healthy lifestyle. With the help of Cooper and his trainer, Antoine (Anders Holm), Jake and Claire go on the most intense diet and exercise program of their lives.

    Andi Mack - "Howling at the Moon Festival" (Disney Channel, 8:00PM ET/PT)
    Friends and family gather to celebrate the Harvest Moon Festival, but Jonah's mishap may spoil the evening; Celia attempts to one-up her sister, Mei, by announcing a special event; Andi and Jonah have a heart-to-heart talk about their relationship.

    Complete TV Listings


    Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of October 15)

    Monday, October 15

    • Melissa McCarthy (Mike & Molly/Samantha Who?) - Watch Melissa on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS. She also talks about Can You Ever Forgive Me? on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am.
    • Judy Greer (Kidding/Married/Mad Love/Miss Guided) - Judy visits The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
    • Jane Levy (Suburgatory) - Jane is a guest on a repeat of Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
    • Heather Dubrow (Stark Raving Mad) - Heather stops by Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
    • Anthony Atamanuik (The President Show) - Anthony appears on Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
    • Ike Barinholtz (The Mindy Project) - Ike drops by LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
    • Kunal Nayyar (The Big Bang Theory) - Kunal is a guest on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
    • Ellie Kemper (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt/The Office) - Ellie appears on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
    • Busy Philipps (Vice Principals/Cougar Town) - Busy visits Access Live, so check your local listings. She will also be on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 11:30am ET.
    • Alec Baldwin (30 Rock) - Alec gives Rach the hilarious scoop on Justin Bieber and his niece, Hailey Baldwin – and revealing if he and his wife, Hilaria, want to have baby #5 together on Rachael Ray, so check your local listings.
    • Alyssa Milano (Who's the Boss?/Romantically Challenged) - Alyssa discusses the #MeToo movement one year later on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am. She will also be on ABC's GMA Day at 1pm.
    • Nico Tortorella (Younger) - Nico appears on People Now at 12pm.
    • Peyton List (Bunk'd/Jessie) and Ajiona Alexus (The Rickey Smiley Show) - Peyton and Ajiona are guests on Chatter on PeopleTV at 8pm.
    • Tyle Labine (Deadbeat/Animal Practice/Sons of Tucson) - Tyler will be on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 11:30am ET.
    • Tiffany Haddish (The Last O.G./The Carmichael Show) - Tiffany appears on NBC's Today in the 10am hour.
    • Nathan Fillion (Two Guys and a Girl) - Nathan talks about The Rookie on the BUILD Series at 2pm.


    New on DVD/Blu-ray (September/October)

    The Big Bang Theory - The Complete Eleventh Season The Middle - The Complete Ninth Season Modern Family - The Complete Ninth Season Step by Step - The Complete Second Season Perfect Strangers - The Complete Fifth Season

    09/04 - It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia - The Complete Season 12
    09/04 - Mom - The Complete Fifth Season
    09/04 - Silicon Valley - The Complete Fifth Season
    09/04 - Superstore - Season Three
    09/04 - Young Sheldon - The Complete First Season
    09/11 - The Big Bang Theory - The Complete Eleventh Season (Blu-ray)
    09/11 - The Middle - The Complete Ninth Season
    09/11 - Modern Family - The Complete Ninth Season
    09/11 - People of Earth - The Complete Second Season
    09/18 - Community - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
    09/18 - Step by Step - The Complete Second Season
    09/18 - You're the Worst - The Complete Fourth Season
    09/25 - Blondie - The Complete 1957 Television Series
    09/25 - Perfect Strangers - The Complete Fifth Season
    10/02 - The Beverly Hillbillies - The Official Fifth Season
    10/02 - The Love Boat - Season Four - Volume One / Volume Two
    10/02 - Saved by the Bell - The Complete Collection
    10/16 - Police Squad! - TV and Movie Collection
    More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest