Monday, October 13, 2014

NBC Fall Pilot Review: Marry Me - Premieres Tuesday, Oct. 14; Full Season Pickups for ABC's black-ish, Murder

Marry Me

Marry Me - Tuesdays at 9:00PM ET/PT on NBC
Premieres Tuesday, October 14, 2014 at 9:00PM ET/PT


by Vincent

Six years ago, Annie and Jake bonded over their mutual love of nachos and they've been inseparable ever since. Now, after returning from a romantic two-week island vacation, Jake's all set to pop the question. Before he can ask, though, Annie lets loose on Jake for his inability to commit. She was expecting him to "put a ring on it" in paradise and now Jake's perfect proposal is ruined. Not wanting to spend the next 60 years talking about that mess of a proposal, Jake and Annie decide to hold off on the engagement until they can do it right.

Cast Details:

Casey Wilson as Annie
Ken Marino as Jake
John Gemberling as Gil
Sarah Wright Olsen as Dennah
Tymberlee Hill as Kay
Tim Meadows as Kevin One

Casey Wilson (Annie) is best known for her role as Penny Hartz on ABC's cult comedy hit Happy Endings. She was also a featured player on Saturday Night Live and starred in the Hulu exclusive series The Hotwives of Orlando, a parody of Real Housewives shows.

Ken Marino (Jake) starred as Ron on Starz's Party Down. He also plays Dr. Glenn Richie on Adult Swim's Children's Hospital. He has also appeared on the Yahoo! Exclusive web series Burning Love, a parody of The Bachelor.

John Gemberling (Gil) can currently be seen as Bevvers on Comedy Central's Broad City. He also appeared on shows such as The Office, Delocated, Happy Endings, and Key & Peele.

Sarah Wright Olsen (Dennah) has appeared in a number of television shows, most notably as Millicent Olsen on Parks and Recreation. She has also appeared on Mad Men, The Middle, Happy Endings, and Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23.

Tymberlee Hill (Kay) appears regularly on Drunk History on Comedy Central. She also starred alongside Casey Wilson in The Hotwives of Orlando. Her other appearances include guest spots on Curb Your Enthusiasm, Comedy Bang! Bang! and Grey's Anatomy.

Tim Meadows (Kevin One) is best known for his long-running role as a cast member on Saturday Night Live from 1991 – 2000. He also starred as Principal Duvall in the hit film Mean Girls. His other TV appearances include spots on Bob's Burgers, 30 Rock, and The Goldbergs.

Pilot Plot:

"Pilot" (Tuesday, Oct. 14 at 9:00PM ET/PT)

After a botched engagement, Annie (Casey Wilson) and Jake (Ken Marino) agree to "re-try" their engagement so they don't have to tell such a terrible story for 60 more years. However, after their next engagement gets botched, they begin to worry if they’re cut out for marriage after all.

Analysis:

In what has been a generally dire fall season for new network comedy, Marry Me is one of two comedy pilots that actually made me laugh out loud (the other is Black-ish). This, alone, makes it a contender for the best comedy pilot of the season, but it already has a few other things going for it. It's helmed by David Caspe, the creator of Happy Endings and stars Casey Wilson, one of the stars of Happy Endings (and also his wife!). It features a pretty solid recurring cast that could easily turn into a likable ensemble given some time, and its talented lead couple already have very good chemistry with each other. All of this adds up to a show that I think could eventually become great, but it's not there yet. The show's premise is groan-worthy, leaning hard on both sitcom and gender clichés that the show will hopefully be able to iron out pretty soon. And while I think the ensemble could become promising, the pilot doesn’t bring them all together in a way that a pilot of a wannabe ensemble comedy probably should. I'm not entirely sure if these people even know each other outside of their relationship to Annie and Jake, and I'm still not clear on who we're going to be seeing every episode (assumingly Jake and Annie's parents won’t be part of the ensemble – although, confusingly, one of her dads is listed as a regular while the other is not).

All of this leads to the Marry Me pilot feeling a little bit formless – there's a clear center at Annie and Jake, but it's unclear what, exactly, the rest of this show is going to be. And although Annie and Jake's relationship is somewhat interesting, it's not unique enough to sustain an entire premise of a show on its own. Of course, looking back at the Happy Endings pilot, it had similar issues – a cliché and unappealing premise (remember when it was a show about a couple that separated at the altar? Me neither!) and an ensemble that seemed talented but wasn’t fully fleshed out yet. The Marry Me pilot is considerably better than the Happy Endings pilot (if only because it has a much more assured sense of humor), but it also sort of feels like it’s desperately trying to be the show that Happy Endings eventually became. And really, that just makes me miss Happy Endings. So my instruction to Marry Me, as if it;s listening to me: make it so that I don't miss Happy Endings every time I watch you. Become your own show, with your own premise, with your own interesting characters. Flesh out your ensemble past the point where they’re all just stereotypes, and dig into your lead characters so they feel more unique and less like cardboard cutouts. If you do all of that, we could be on the way to something special here.

Conclusion:

Marry Me is loaded with potential. It has a creator who's proven himself before, a talented and likable lead couple, and an already sharp sense of humor. What it needs to do now is figure out just what, exactly, it is. "Couple that gets engaged" is not an interesting enough premise to sustain itself for a full season or even, really, a few episodes, so what it needs to do now is expand its world and its ensemble into something that we want to keep coming back to. It's on its way, but it needs a little bit more work to get there.

Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):

Watchability: 3/5
Funniness: 4/5
Overall: 3.5/5

Discuss the show after you watch it on Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2014 at 9:00PM ET/PT on our message board.

Related Links:

  • NBC.com Official Site
  • TV.com
  • epguides.com
  • Internet Movie Database
  • Wikipedia
  • Marry Me Photo Gallery

    Preview:





  • black-ish

    ABC has picked up the new hit comedy black-ish (22 episodes) and the new hit drama How to Get Away with Murder (15 episodes) for full seasons, in the first series pickups of the new season. How to Get Away with Murder was television's top series debut of the season and the biggest 10pm drama debut in two years in Adults 18-49. black-ish opened as the #2 series debut and the #1 comedy debut on television by the same metric. Additionally, black-ish had the best-ever viewer retention out of Modern Family for any comedy debut. The comedy stars Anthony Anderson as Andre "Dre" Johnson, Tracee Ellis Ross as Rainbow Johnson, Yara Shahidi as Zoey Johnson, Marcus Scribner as Andre Johnson, Jr., Miles Brown as Jack Johnson, Marsai Martin as Diane Johnson and special guest star, Laurence Fishburne as Pops.

    How to Get Away with Murder

    How to Get Away with Murder stars Academy-Award Nominee Viola Davis as Professor Annalise Keating, Billy Brown as Nate, Alfred Enoch as Wes Gibbins, Jack Falahee as Connor Walsh, Katie Findlay as Rebecca, Aja Naomi King as Michaela Pratt, Matt McGorry as Asher Millstone, Karla Souza as Laurel Castillo, Charlie Weber as Frank Delfino and Liza Weil as Bonnie Winterbottom.


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    Saturday, January 21

    • Phylicia Rashad (The Cosby Show/Cosby) - Phylicia will be featured on Oprah: Where Are They Now? at 10pm ET/PT on OWN.
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