Wednesday, January 31, 2018

NBC Mid-Season Pilot Review: A.P. Bio - Premieres Thursday (Feb. 1); Pretty Little Liars Spinoff Casts Sofia Carson

A.P. Bio

A.P. Bio - Thursdays at 9:30PM ET/PT on NBC
Premieres Thursday, February 1, 2018 at 9:30PM ET/PT


by Vincent

When disgraced Harvard philosophy scholar Jack Griffin (Glenn Howerton) loses out on his dream job, he is forced to return to Toledo, Ohio, and work as a high school AP Bio teachers. Jack makes it absolutely clear he will not be teaching any biology. Realizing he has a room full of honor roll students at his disposal, Jack decides instead to use the kids for his own benefit.

Cast Details:

Glenn Howerton as Jack Griffin
Patton Oswalt as Principal Durbin
Tom Bennett as Myles
Tucker Alibrizzi as Colin
Allisyn Ashley Arm as Heather

Glenn Howerton (Jack) is best known for his role as Dennis Reynolds on the long-running FX hit comedy It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. He has also appeared in recurring roles on The Mindy Project and Fargo.

Patton Oswalt (Principal Durbin) is a comedic actor, known for his role as Spencer on The King of Queens and Remy in the Pixar film Ratatouille. He is also a popular stand-up comedian and has guest starred on many shows, including Parks and Recreation, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, and Veep.

Tom Bennett (Myles) is a British actor who has appeared in many British television shows, including The Hunt for Tony Blair, Red Cap, The Worst Week of My Life, My Hero, Life Begins, The Booze Cruise II, Foyle's War, Midsomer Murders and EastEnders, playing Steve Clarke.

Tucker Alibrizzi (Colin) is a young comedic actor, known for his role on shows such as Big Time Rush and Good Luck Charlie, as well as in films such as Bridesmaids and I Am Number Four.

Allisin Ashley Arm (Heather) is an American actress known for her main role as Zora Lancaster on Sonny with a Chance and in Disney Channel's sketch comedy series So Random!

Pilot Plot:

"Pilot" (Airs Thursday, February 1 at 9:30PM ET)

Jack Griffin is the newest AP Bio teacher in Toldeo, Ohio, but he makes it clear he will not be teaching any biology – instead, Jack decides instead to use the kids to enact revenge on his rival and take the job that is rightfully his, much to the chagrin of his principal, who is attempting to balance Jack and the school while maintaining his "nice guy" composure.

Analysis:

AP Bio is a weird show. It feels like it wants to be a cable comedy along the lines of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, disregarding things such as plot, character development and empathy and employing a go-for-broke dark humor where everything is a target for laughs. Of course, anyone who watches It's Always Sunny (or You're the Worst or Broad City or any similarly-veined cable comedy) knows that these shows don’t actually disregard plot or character development or even empathy – they just deploy them in less traditional, in-your-face ways. It's Always Sunny may be about a group of sociopaths, but it depicts them in ways that are interesting and most importantly, funny. AP Bio, unfortunately, didn’t seem to realize that was a requirement.

One might look at AP Bio and assume that it will follow the "cold-hearted jerk winds up being inspired by a group of lovable misfits" progression – I saw a lot of Community comparisons when the trailer was released last spring. However, AP Bio makes it clear early on that it has little interesting in transforming its truly deplorable lead character – in the first 5 minutes of the pilot, he tells his students, "I will not be learning from you." That's fine! A truly rotten lead character in a comedy series could be a great source of laughs. But AP Bio doesn't seem to have any direction for its lead character other than "he's a jerk." There are plenty of jerks depicted on TV. "Jerk" is not an interesting character trait in and of itself, and through-out the four episodes released to critics, Griffin never seems to become anything other than "jerk."

On top of it all, AP Bio is just downright mean. It feels like a leftover from 2000s-era sitcoms, when network TV was desperately trying to recreate Seinfeld and did so by churning out a handful of dark, cynical comedies where nothing ever seemed to go right for anyone. Most of these shows were terrible, but some went on to be classics – I'd probably say The Office and 30 Rock had some of this vibe, but those shows succeeded by creating interesting worlds of characters that felt like human beings, and the cynicism of those shows worlds were crafted in a way that was funny and felt like a commentary on their own premises. AP Bio just feels mean for the sake of being mean. It has a great cast, some funny lines, and all of the makings of a good show, but underneath its glossy surface, there's not much there. Hopefully, it can take a cue from some of the excellent comedies on the network it airs on such as The Good Place and Superstore and craft an identity of its own, otherwise it's going to stick out like quite a sore thumb on an excellent line-up.

Conclusion:

AP Bio isn't a total waste of time – Glenn Howerton does good work with a fairly uninspiring lead character, and there are some genuine laugh-out-loud moments. Unfortunately, the show suffers from being too mean-spirited and operating without much of a purpose. There's nothing about Jack Griffin or anyone on AP Bio that feels unique or lived in – they're just hollow joke machines, churning out jokes that are sometimes funny but not frequently enough to excuse just how little there it the show. There is potential here, so hopefully the creative team can re-evaluate some of the series’ flaws and make better use of its talented cast.

Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):

Watchability: 2/5
Funniness: 3/5
Overall: 2.5/5

Discuss the show after you watch it on Thursday, February 1, 2018 at 9:30PM ET/PT on our message board.

Related Links:

  • NBC.com Official Site
  • TV.com
  • epguides.com
  • Internet Movie Database
  • Wikipedia
  • A.P. Bio Photo Gallery

    Preview:





  • Sofia Carson

    Freeform, Disney's young adult television network, announced that rising star Sofia Carson (Descendants) has joined the cast of the drama pilot Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists. Carson will play Ava, a beautiful trendsetting blogger and coder, who strives to be a fashion icon. She joins Pretty Little Liars stars Sasha Pieterse and Janel Parrish in the spinoff pilot. Carson will also appear on the upcoming season of Freeform's series Famous in Love, which like Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists is executive produced by I. Marlene King. Carson will guest star on the series as Sloane, the daughter of a movie mogul, who becomes entwined with Paige Townsen and her friends. The second season of Famous in Love will premiere on Wednesday, April 4 at 8:00 PM ET/PT on Freeform, streaming, and on demand. Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists, is based on the popular book series "The Perfectionists," written by Sara Shepard, who also penned the No. 1 New York Times bestselling book series "Pretty Little Liars." Everything about the town of Beacon Heights seems perfect, from their top-tier college to their overachieving residents, but nothing in Beacon Heights is as it appears to be. The stress of needing to be perfect leads to the town's first murder. Behind every Perfectionist is a secret, a lie and a needed alibi.


    Sitcoms Airing Tonight

    Friday, April 20

    The Paynes - "Date Night" (OWN, 9:00PM ET/PT)
    Curtis and Ella Payne get roped into a real estate deal while trying to enjoy their retirement.

    Complete TV Listings


    Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of April 16)

    Friday, April 20

    • Rory Scovel (Ground Floor) - Rory chats with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
    • Susan Kelechi Watson (Louie) - Susan is a guest on Harry, so check your local listings.
    • Christine Lahti (The Harvey Korman Show) - Christine Christine talks about her book True Stories from an Unreliable Eyewitness: A Feminist Coming of Age on Access Live, so check your local listings.
    • T.R Knight (Charlie Lawrence) - T.R. talks about Nat Geo's Genius on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 11:30am ET.
    • Emmanuelle Chriqui (Entourage) - Emmanuelle talks about Super Troopers 2 on People Now at 8:30am.
    • Sean Hayes (Will & Grace/Sean Saves the World) - Sean speaks out about his terrifying health scare and his fight against hearing loss on The Dr. Oz Show, so check your local listings.
    • Holly Robinson Peete (Hangin' with Mr. Cooper/For Your Love) - Holly talks about Meet the Peetes on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
    • Alia Shawkat (Search Party/Arrested Development) - Alia talks about Duck Butter on the BUILD Series at 10am.
    • Busy Philipps (Vice Principals/Cougar Town) - Busy is a guest on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
    • Jodie Sweetin (Fuller House/Hollywood Darlings/Full House), Beverley Mitchell (Hollywood Darlings and Christine Lakin (Hollywood Darlings/Step by Step) - Jodie, Beverley and Christine talk about Pop's Hollywood Darlings on Good Mythical Morning with Rhett & Link on YouTube.


    New on DVD/Blu-ray (February/March/April)

    Diff'rent Strokes - The Complete Seventh Season Green Acres - The Complete Fifth Season Mayberry R.F.D. - The Complete First Season One Day at a Time - Season Two Perfect Strangers  - The Complete Third Season

    02/06 - All in the Family - Seasons 1-5
    02/06 - Bosom Buddies - The Complete Series
    02/06 - Women of the House - Complete 12 Episode Series
    02/13 - Broad City - Season 4
    02/13 - Three's Company - The Complete Series - Come and Knock on Our Door Collection
    02/27 - Diff'rent Strokes - The Complete Seventh Season
    02/27 - Green Acres - The Complete Fifth Season
    02/27 - Mayberry R.F.D. - The Complete First Season
    03/06 - Atlanta - The Complete First Season
    03/06 - Curb Your Enthusiasm - The Complete Ninth Season
    03/13 - The New Adventures of Old Christine - The Complete First Season
    03/27 - One Day at a Time - Season Two
    04/03 - Ballers - The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray)
    04/03 - 90's Sitcom (Just Shoot Me!/The Larry Sanders Show/Wings) Starter Set - Season 1 & 2 Bundle
    04/10 - Vice Principals - The Compelte Series
    04/17 - Perfect Strangers - The Complete Third Season
    More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest