Monday, September 20, 2010

Fox Fall Pilot Review: Running Wilde - Premieres September 21; Top 10 Sitcom Bodacious Babes & Humongous Hunks

The 2010-2011 TV season officially begins TONIGHT! Are you excited? Our new sitcom pilot reviews continue all this week though Thursday! Today we have a pilot review for Fox's new comedy Running Wilde.

Running Wilde

Running Wilde - Tuesdays 9:30PM ET/PT on Fox
Premieres Tuesday, September 21, 2010 at 9:30PM ET/PT

From the Emmy Award-winning creator and the star of the critically acclaimed Fox series Arrested Development comes Running Wilde, a romantic comedy starring Will Arnett as Steven Wilde, a filthy-rich, immature playboy trying desperately to win (or buy) the heart of his childhood sweetheart, Emmy Kadubic (Keri Russell), the über-liberal humanitarian who got away – all told through the perspective of a 12-year-old girl.

Steve Wilde has never performed a selfless act. But why should he? He's rich! The son of an oil tycoon, Steve hasn't had to work a day in his life and has always gotten everything he's wanted – with one exception: the love of Emmy.

The daughter of a former Wilde housekeeper, Emmy is an earnest do-gooder who has spent her adult life trying to save the world. And though Emmy is content living with an indigenous tribe in the Amazon rainforest, her 12-year-old daughter, Puddle (Stefania Owen), just wants to be a normal kid experiencing her adolescence in a normal place. And she would speak up except for the fact that she hasn't spoken in six months.

When Wilde Oil's expansion in the rainforest threatens her adopted tribe, Emmy decides to attend Steve's self-thrown "Humanitarian of the Year" award ceremony in hopes of convincing him to help her cause...and also maybe because she still has a thing for Steve. But same-old Steve is unwilling to help because fighting Wilde Oil (a/k/a Dad) means putting his meal ticket in jeopardy.

Rather than run the risk of letting Emmy slip away again, Steve pulls out all the stops to win her heart. To do so, he enlists the only other people in his life who can help: Oxford-accented neighbor and "frenemy" Fa'ad Shaoulian (Peter Serafinowicz); Migo Salazar (Mel Rodriguez), Steve's employee/sidekick/errand-boy; and (reluctantly) the scheming Mr. Lunt (Robert Michael Morris), Steve's "manny"-turned-secretary as well as the biggest protector of Steve...and his own job.

Despite having everything he ever wanted, Steve knows he can't buy love and happiness, which falls in sharp contrast to Emmy, who has nothing but love and happiness. So with Emmy committed to doing good for nothing, and Steve being a good for nothing, will this hopelessly mismatched pair ever be able to reconcile their differences?

Running Wilde is produced by Tantamount Studios, Five Hole Pictures and Principato-Young Management in association with Lionsgate Television. The series is written and created by Mitch Hurwitz, Jim Vallely and Will Arnett. Hurwitz, Vallely, Arnett, Eric Tannenbaum, Kim Tannenbaum, Peter Principato and Paul Young serve as executive producers. Anthony Russo and Joe Russo directed and served as executive producers on the pilot episode.


Cast Details:

* Will Arnett as Steven Wilde
* Keri Russell as Emmy Kadubic
* Stefania Owen as Puddle Kadubic
* Peter Serafinowicz as Fa'ad Shaoulin
* Robert Mitchell Morris as Mr. Lunt
* Mel Rodriguez as Migo Salazar

Will Arnett (Steven Wilde) stars and co-wrote the series pilot and serves an executive producer and writer on the series. Arnett earned his first Emmy nomination in 2006 for his work on the critically acclaimed comedy series Arrested Development, where he portrayed Gob Bluth for three seasons. Arnett's recurring guest-starring role as Devon Banks on the comedy series 30 Rock most recently earned him a 2010 Emmy nomination for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series, a role in which he was nominated for previously in 2008.
Before Arrested Development, Arnett was a regular on the comedy series The Mike O'Malley Show. His additional television credits include Parks and Recreation, Sex and the City, The Sopranos, Will & Grace, Boston Public, Third Watch, Law & Order: SVU and a regular on the animated Sit Down, Shut Up.

Keri Russell (Emmy Kadubic) has starred in a number of major motion pictures, independent films and television shows. Russell first garnered attention starring in the title role in the hit television series Felicity. In just four months after the show's acclaimed premiere, Russell was honored with a Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Drama Series. Her television work also includes the mini-series Into the West executive-produced by Steven Spielberg and directed by Simon Wincer, and the Hallmark Hall of Fame Presentation The Magic of Ordinary Days.

Stefania Owen (Puddle Kadubic) was most recently seen in director Peter Jackson's feature film adaptation of The Lovely Bones. She is making her television debut. She is only 12 years old.

Peter Serafinowicz (Fa'ad Shaoulian, Steve's neighbor) is a familiar face to audiences in his native England. Serafinowicz co-created with Robert Popper the cult British TV series Look Around You, which was nominated for a BAFTA and won the Rose d'Or for Best Comedy in 2006. He also created a series of internet shorts with his brother, James, that led to a television series commissioned by the BBC entitled The Peter Serafinowicz Show. The series went on to receive a BAFTA nomination, and in 2008 Serafinowicz won the Rose d'Or for Best Entertainer.

Robert Michael Morris' (Mr. Lunt, Steve's secretary) breakthrough role was as flamboyant hair stylist Mickey Deane opposite Lisa Kudrow in the critically acclaimed cable series The Comeback. His additional television credits include Brothers & Sisters, How I Met Your Mother, The Class, Arrested Development and Will & Grace.

Mel Rodriguez's (Migo Salazar, Steve's driver & friend) television work includes recurring roles on Big Love, FLASHFORWARD, The Middle and George Lopez. His film credits include Little Miss Sunshine and The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada. Rodriguez recently guest-starred on the cable comedy series Workaholics.


Pilot Plot:

#1 "Pilot" (#104, Airs Tuesday, Sept. 21)
Steven Wilde is a filthy-rich, immature playboy trying desperately to win (or buy) the heart of his childhood sweetheart, Emmy Kadubic, the über-liberal humanitarian who got away. Given the chance to reconnect with Emmy, Steve pulls out all the stops to win her heart.

Guest starring is David Cross as Andy Weeks.
"Pilot" was written by Mitch Hurwitz, Jim Vallely & Will Arnett and directed by Anthony Russo & Joe Russo.


Analysis:

The pilot is OK. I was expecting it to be a bit better with Will Arnett and Keri Russell in the cast. The pilot was very quirky, I think. It might not get the mainstream audience. The supporting characters I think are much funnier it seems in the pilot. Steven Wilde is a billionaire and he has a pretty big ego. Sometimes he is very unlikeable in this pilot. This is not your ordinary romantic comedy for sure. I guess that is good since it is really different. Anyway, Steven's friends are probably the funniest part of the pilot. His driver/friend Migo is pretty funny, as are his secretary Mr. Lunt (who also was his "manny" when he was a child), and his rich neighbor Fa'ad. Mr. Lunt looks like a dead-ringer for the late Rod Roddy of The Price is Right. In fact, Steven and Mr. Lint mention The Price is Right in the pilot, which made me immediately think that Mr. Lint looks like Rod!

Steven is obsessed with his childhood sweetheart Emmy. They haven't seen each other since they were kids, though. Steven sets up The Humanitarian of the Fiscal Year award and honors himself. He invites Emmy, who is now living in the Amazon with her 12 year old daughter, Puddles. The series is told through the perspective of Puddle (that means she is the narrator). Puddles is very unhappy living in the Amazon, but Emmy doesn't listen and realize it. Puddles hasn't spoken a word in 6 months. That is strange. Emmy has a boyfriend in the Amazon named Andy (played by David Cross) and he is an "eco-terrorist." We only see him briefly in this pilot, but he definitely doesn't seem that interested in Emmy. Ironically, Wilde Oil (ran by Steven's father) is trying to kick the tribe out of the Amazon. I guess that is the reason Emmy goes to the award event to persuade Steven to ask his father not to drill in the Amazon. Of course Steve refuses. But will he do anything to get her back?

Apparently he does. He and his neighbor Fa'ad create a story after Puddles finally talked and told Steven that she wants out of the Amazon. So Steven and Fa'ad try to trick Emmy...will it work? At the end Steven shows a little bit of heart, but is it enough?


Conclusion:

This pilot has its moments. It could be better but this is a set-up of the story so it might take an episode or two to find is footing. The supporting characters are great, but they really need to make Steven a bit nicer at least as he seems heartless. I am not sure why Emmy is even interested in Steven. The pilot is certainly "wild." It's "ego meets eco" in this comedy, will Steven's ego ever go away and will Emmy's eco-craziness ever go away? Maybe at some point they will both meet half-way and realize they need to back off a bit on the ego and eco stuff.

The series will have a pretty hard time in the ratings, I think facing steep competition on ABC, CBS and even NBC. Fox hasn't had a live-action comedy hit in years. The series will follow Raising Hope, which we reviewed yesterday. Will this show follow in the path of Arrested Development and never catch on in the ratings? I think that will be the case here. It should have a cult following like that show, especially online. The series has potential, but it needs to back off a bit on heartless Steve (like at the end of the pilot). This is not your ordinary romantic comedy, so be prepared for something a little different (and "wild").


Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):

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

-- Reviewed by Pavan on 09/20/10

Discuss the show after you watch it on Tuesday, September 21 on our message board.

Related Links:

  • Fox.com Official Site
  • TV.com
  • epguides.com
  • Internet Movie Database
  • Wikipedia
  • Running Wilde Photo Gallery

    Preview:





    To celebrate tonight's premiere of Mike & Molly, our friends at TV Tango weigh in with a list of TV characters who are bodacious babes and humongous hunks. Did your fave fleshy fictional character make the list? See who makes the the top 10! Maybe Roseanne will make the cut? Find out by viewing the top 10! And if you missed it on Friday, here is our pilot review for Mike & Molly airing tonight on CBS!

    We have three more pilot reviews to do the next three days for the fall sitcom season:
    *Tuesday, September 21: Better With You, ABC (premieres Wednesday, Sept. 22)
    *Wednesday, September 22: $#*! (Bleep) My Dad Says, CBS (premieres Thursday, Sept. 23)
    *Thursday, September 23: Outsourced, NBC (premieres Thursday, Sept. 23)


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