Tuesday, April 03, 2012

NBC Mid-Season Pilot Review: Best Friends Forever - Premieres April 4; MeTV Spring 2012 Schedule


Best Friends Forever

Best Friends Forever - Wednesdays 8:30PM ET/PT on NBC
Premieres Wednesday, April 4, 2012 at 8:30PM ET/PT


Best Friends Forever, from executive producer Scot Armstrong (Old School, Hangover 2), is a new comedy about old friends, new beginnings and awkward situations.

Jessica St. Clair (Bridesmaids) and Lennon Parham (Accidentally on Purpose) star as Jessica and Lennon, best friends who live on opposite sides of the country with the men in their lives. When Jessica is overnighted divorce papers, Lennon convinces her to return home to Brooklyn and back into the apartment they used to share. It doesn't take long for the girls to fall into old habits: movie marathons and late night girl talk sessions - none of which is good news for Lennon's live-in boyfriend, Joe (Luka Jones, Upright Citizens Brigade). Joe tries to be understanding but begins to feel like a stranger in his own home. Meanwhile, Jessica is trying to get used to her new single life. Will she have to start buying matching sets of underwear again? Also, reconnecting with old friends like Rav (Stephen Schneider, Happy Endings), who may or may not have feelings for her, is more complicated than she thought. All of Jessica's new efforts are met with the critique of the friends' precocious nine-year-old neighbor, Queenetta (Daija Owens), who is not shy about doling out advice on their life choices.


Cast Details:

Lennon Parham as Lennon
Jessica St. Clair as Jessica
Stephen Schneider as Rav
Luka Jones as Joe
Daija Owens as Queenetta

Lennon Parham (Lennon) is perhaps best known for playing the supporting role of Abby Chase, alongside Jenna Elfman on the television series Accidentally on Purpose. Additional television credits include guest roles on NBC's popular comedy Parks and Recreation as well as How I Met Your Mother. Parham also starred in Lady Refs for the cable special Funny or Die Presents... Her film credits include Confessions of a Shopaholic, Splinterheads and the comedy-horror film by Dan Fogler, Hysterical Psycho.

A multi-talented actress and writer, Jessica St. Clair (Jessica) has gained notoriety performing at the legendary Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in New York and Los Angeles. This past summer, St. Clair could be seen in the film Bridesmaids and will next be seen in the feature Wanderlust. Additional feature-film credits include She's Out of My League, Life as We Know It and Christopher Guest's For Your Consideration. In television, St. Clair has starred opposite Megan Mullally and Cheryl Hines in In the Motherhood and has had guest-starring appearances on NBC's Parks and Recreation, Weeds and United States of Tara.

After Stephen Schneider (Rav) graduated from Emory University in Atlanta, he wrote and directed his first feature film Puberty: The Movie, starring David Wain, Joe Lo Truglio and Amy Sedaris. He then launched the sketch comedy website thebsquad, featuring original sketches in which he performed and wrote. Several of his sketches have been featured in festivals, on television and on the home pages of Gawker, Break and Funny or Die. Schneider went on to work as a writer and correspondent for InfoMania, a comedic news show. Schneider recently wrote, produced and starred in the award-winning feature film The Funniest Movie Ever, directed by Eric Ledgin, where he stars as wannabe stand-up comic Steve Deeds who's trying to make it big in the City of Angels. The film is currently touring the festival circuit. Schneider also will be featured in the upcoming film Bert and Arnie's Guide to Friendship, directed by Jeff Kaplan.

Luka Jones (Joe) was raised in the Chicago and Denver metro areas. He has been featured in comedy shows at iO West, the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater, the Hollywood Improv and other venues throughout the Los Angeles area. Jones has trained at the Atlantic Theater Company in New York and the Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago.

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Daija Owens (Queenetta) showed a knack for performing at a young age. Since she was three, she has expressed herself by being unintentionally comical. Her funny facial expressions have always piqued the curiosity of her family who never know what she will do next to make them laugh. The energetic Owens began her acting career at the age of six when she landed a role in her grade-school production of The Wizard of Oz, where she played one of the Munchkins.

Pilot Episode:

"Ding Dong Hello" (April 4, 8:30PM) - When Jessica is overnighted divorce papers, her best friend Lennon convinces her to return home to Brooklyn and back into the apartment they used to share. The girls easily fall back into old habits -- none of which is good news for Lennon's live-in boyfriend, Joe. Meanwhile Jessica adjusts to her new single life by reconnecting with old friends like Rav, however her new efforts meet the critique of the friends' precocious nine-year-old neighbor, Queenetta.

Analysis:

Best Friends Forever is a single-camera comedy. There's no laugh track added. The is produced by Universal Television and American Work, Inc. Along with Armstrong, St. Clair, Parham, Alexa Junge (Friends, United States of Tara), Fred Savage (Party Down) and Ravi Nandan are executive producers. Donick Cary is consulting producer, while Keith Raskin serves as producer on the series. Fred Savage directs the pilot episode.

In the pilot episode, Jessica talks to Lennon via Skype on the computer and tells her that her marriage is falling apart. Jessica receives her divorce papers from her husband, Peter. Lennon tells her that she will book her a ticket to New York to visit her. Jessica and Lennon have a talk about Peter. Lennon's boyfriend, Joe, listens to their conversation before he is asked to leave. Joe still wants to have a lazy Sunday party because he is planning something special for Lennon. Joe gives up his office to Jessica and shows Lennon the game he is designing. Jessica finds a ring in Joe's room. Jessica and Lennon talk to their spunky next-door neighbor, Queenetta. Jessica and Lennon go to the deli and talk to Angelo. Jessica aks Rav about Joe and Lennon's relationship at a bar. Joe and Rav play an online game while Jessica and Lennon have a Steel Magnolias marathon. Jessica and Lennon plan the party and discuss some design changes to the apartment. Joe runs an errand and talks to Angelo. Lennon and Joe have a major argument. Jessica and Rav have a serious talk about Lennon. Lennon, Jessica and Queenetta prepare for lazy Sunday. Joe surprises Lennon with a gift. A closing tag scene involves Joe, Lennon and Jessica.

The pilot has a few funny moments, but overall it's not very interesting and entertaining. It feels more like a movie storyline instead of a television comedy. There's no narration or flashback type scenes used in the pilot. I think this will either be a show that people love and relate to or they will turn it off after 5 minutes. The main cast is small and probably unknown to most people. Lennon Parham and Jessica St. Clair have known each other for 10 years and appear to have some good comedic timing together. I've enjoyed their work in other roles, especially Parham in the Jenna Elfman comedy Accidentally on Purpose a few years ago. The two males leads are unknown to me, but they do a good job in the pilot. Adam Pally from Happy Endings was originally cast as Joe in the pilot, but Luka Jones was brought in to replace him when Pally's show was renewed. Jones looks a little bit like and has a similar voice as Pally. The biggest surprise of the cast is young Daija Jones as the sassy neighbor Queenetta. It seems like she doesn't have much acting experience, but she's natural in front of the camera. She's only in a couple scenes in the pilot, so maybe her role is expanded a bit in the other episodes. She reminds me a lot of Dee from What's Happening. Reid Scott will play Jessica's estranged husband, Peter, in the second episode. Mimi Kennedy and J.K. Simmons will be appearing in the third episode scheduled to air as Joe's parents.

Conclusion:

This boy-meets-girl's-best-friend comedy has a few funny scenes and lines, but overall it feels more like a dramedy and movie rather than a pure sitcom. There's crying, emotional scenes, screaming matches and heart-to-heart talks in the pilot episode. It's pretty serious stuff for a comedy. They try to blend in the comedy, but it doesn't always work well. Hopefully they lighten the mood a bit in the upcoming episodes. Parham and St. Clair are clearly the standouts of the series. Both are likable and work well together. They are certainly believable as best friends. I just don't think this show will appeal to many men, but women will probably relate better to the characters and the "BFF" concept. If you liked Bridesmaids, you would probably enjoy this type of comedy.

Best Friends Forever will premiere after Betty White's Off Their Rockers on Wednesday. It should receive some decent sampling. The pilot is decent enough, but I feel like Bent had a stronger pilot and better overall premise to it and should have received this better timeslot. It's difficult to judge a show after watching only the pilot, but I just can't see Best Friends Forever lasting beyond the 6 episodes that NBC ordered. NBC hasn't had much success with all of these single-camera mid-season sitcoms in recent years. Hopefully they will go back to the multi-camera sitcom format that they had success with the likes Friends, Frasier and Seinfeld.

Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):

Watchability: 3.0/5
Funniness: 3.0/5
Overall: 3.0/5

-- Reviewed by Todd Fuller on 04/03/12

Discuss the show after you watch it on Wednesday, April 3 on our message board.

Related Links:

  • NBC.com Official Site
  • TV.com
  • epguides.com
  • Internet Movie Database
  • Wikipedia
  • Best Friends Forever Photo Gallery

    Preview:





    MeTV Network has announced some changes to their spring schedule. Starting Monday, April 16, The Honeymooners are back in a big way. The original 39 episodes will air weeknights at 10:30pm/9:30c (as well as the lost episodes weekday and Sunday mornings at 5:00am/4:00c). The Odd Couple will be moving earlier in primetime to 9:30pm/8:30c, as That Girl is slated for the morning. The morning weekday hours will see The Beverly Hillbillies at 6:00am/5:00c followed by Petticoat Junction, Family Affair, My Three Sons and That Girl. Gomer Pyle and Love, American Style will be leaving the schedule for now. Another airing of M*A*S*H will replace The Invisible Man on Sunday nights at 9:30pm/8:30c. You can view the full schedule here.

    As we mentioned last week, MeTV will add classic animated programs to the Saturday morning line-up beginning this Saturday (April 7). The new AniMeTV block will feature classic animated series from 5-8am ET/PT. Airing in order are: Gumby, The Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe and She-Ra: Princess of Power. The latter two will have two episodes back-to-back. This block will replace Saturday airings of Gomer Pyle, Petticoat Junction and The Beverly Hillbillies. By the power of Grayskull...I have the power!



    What do you think of these schedule changes? Discuss MeTV's spring schedule here.

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