Monday, May 20, 2013

Fox Midseason Pilot Review: The Goodwin Games - Premieres May 20; Fox to Air Anger Management Episodes in June

The Goodwin Games

The Goodwin Games - Mondays at 8:30PM ET/PT on Fox
Premieres Monday, May 20, 2013 at 8:30PM ET/PT


by Vincent

The Goodwin Games tells the story of three grown siblings who return home after their father's death and find themselves poised to inherit his vast fortune. The Goodwins consist of successful surgeon Henry (Scott Foley), failed child prodigy Chloe (Becki Newton), and ex-con and dim-wit guitarist Jimmy (TJ Miller). All three Goodwins have their own reasons as to why they deserve to win their late father's fortune - but they will only be able to inherit it if they follow his close instructions.

Cast Details:
Scott Foley as Henry Goodwin
Becki Newton as Chloe Goodwin
TJ Miller as Jimmy Goodwin
Melissa Tang as April Cho
Kat Foster as Lucinda Hobbes

Scott Foley (Henry Goodwin) has appeared on a variety of television shows and is currently featured in the fifth season of the hit cable drama True Blood and on ABC's red-hot Scandal. His additional television credits include the critically acclaimed dramas Grey's Anatomy, The Unit and Felicity, as well as the comedies Scrubs and A.U.S.A. He has also done work in feature films, including Scream 3, Below, and the indie feature Rennie's Landing. He also has directorial credits on several episodes of Felicity as well as network promos for the series.

Becki Newton (Chloe Goodwin) is best known for her role as Amanda Tanen on the acclaimed comedy Ugly Betty. She also starred in the anthology series Love Bites and was seen on the big screen in August Rush. Most recently, she was seen in a recurring role as Neil Patrick Harris' love interest, Quinn, on the hit comedy series How I Met Your Mother.

TJ Miller (Jimmy Goodwin) as been named one of Variety's Top 10 Comics to Watch, as well as one of Entertainment Weekly's Next Big Things in Comedy. Most recently, Miller was seen in the feature film comedy Seeking a Friend For the End of the World and in the '80s rock musical Rock of Ages. Miller also starred as Ranger Jones in the live-action/CGI feature film Yogi Bear in Tony Scott's dramatic thriller Unstoppable, and in hit comedy Get Me to the Greek. He voiced the character Tuffnut in the acclaimed animated film How to Train Your Dragon and will reprise his role for the sequel, How to Train Your Dragon 2. In television, he co-starred in the short-lived comedy Carpoolers.

Melissa Tang (April Cho) makes her television series regular debut on The Goodwin Games, but has done a handful of guest appearance work on series such as New Girl, Harry's Law, Baby Daddy, Good Luck Charlie, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Lie to Me, and The Unit.

Kat Foster (Lucinda Hobbes) can be seen in recurring roles on the cable comedy series and the cable drama Royal Pains. Her past television appearances include series regular roles on comedy 'Til Death and comedic police drama The Unusuals. Foster has made numerous guest-starring appearances on such series as Franklin and Bash, The Good Wife, The Book of Daniel, Law & Order, Law & Order: SVU and Law & Order: Criminal Intent.


Pilot Plot:

"Pilot" (airs Monday, May 20 at 8:30 PM ET/PT)

In the pilot episode of the series, we meet all three Goodwins - Henry, Chloe, and Jimmy - after they return home to attend their father's funeral. However, the funeral turns out to be much more than that when they unexpectedly find themselves poised to inherit more than $20 million. However, they quickly learn that they will only be able to inherit this fortune if - and only if - they can adhere to their late father's wishes.

Guest starring Beau Bridges as Benjamin Goodwi.

Analysis:

What a difference a year can make. I remember The Goodwin Games was one of the more hyped projects of last year's pilot season due to the hand of How I Met Your Mother creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas. At Upfront, Fox announced it would be premiering the show midseason. The hype pretty much died down from there as the show was quietly swept under the rug, until Fox finally announced its premiere date - no longer midseason, but instead, in the summer. So after all of that, I kind of expected the pilot to be a disaster. It's actually not! But it is kind of ho-hum, and clearly inferior to Ben & Kate, which wound up on the fall schedule in the show's place. (Ben & Kate would eventually fall victim to the ax, but it was quite an enjoyable little show while it was on). There are several things the pilot does well - I really liked the potential relationship between the three siblings it boasted. The show very clearly defined who they were, why they became estranged from each other, and what issues they're going to have to work out. It's not at all hard to imagine countless good stories about the three of them getting re-acquainted with each other and working out their conflicts. The characters in the pilot, despite being somewhat stereotypical, had enough depth that you could eventually see the show moving beyond their stereotypes.

Unfortunately, there are a handful of issues with the pilot that hold it back from being as good as it could be. The biggest problem is that it's almost completely laugh-free. It has a lot of instances of something critics call "like-a-jokes" - they sound like jokes, but they just don't really deliver. This isn't helped by TJ Miller, who is certainly a funny guy, but whose somewhat outlandish humor stylings just don't really mesh with the show's laid-back vibe. (The role of Jimmy was originally supposed to go to Jake Lacey, but he wound up on the final season of The Office instead, and he seemed like a better fit than Miller). Another issue I had is that it never gets as interesting as its concept suggests it could. The idea of a family competing for money in a will has the potential to churn out some really fresh material for a sitcom, but the pilot mostly carries it through by-the-numbers schlock and predictable plots - pretty much every plot beat the show hit was one I saw coming a mile away. I don't expect sitcom pilots to floor me in the plot department, but following such trite formulas is rarely a good sign.

Conclusion:

Considering how Fox buried this show, I was honestly expecting a lot worse from this pilot. It's not bad at all, and I don't feel like I wasted my time watching it or anything - high praise, I know! The problem is it's not necessarily good, either. There are elements here that suggest a show that could become good, but there are also plenty of elements that suggest it's a show with an interesting concept that has no idea how to put that concept to good use. Which path the show takes may be made more clear by future episodes, but the pilot itself doesn't really offer a lot of promise.

That said, the things the show does well - characterization, relationship-building - are integral aspects of a good comedy, so I do think that given time, The Goodwin Games could probably develop into a fine show, even if it's one that doesn't stand out as much as its premise suggests it could. I sort of doubt it will be given that time, given its current position, and I don't know that the world really needed another "good enough" family comedy anyway, but there's enough here that does make me wonder if there could be a show here if it was given time to be something. I suspect we'll never know, but hey...weirder things have happened, I guess

Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):

Watchability: 3.5/5
Funniness: 2/5
Overall: 3/5

Discuss the show after you watch it on Monday, May 20, 2013 at 8:30PM ET/PT on our message board.

Related Links:

  • Fox.com Official Site
  • TV.com
  • epguides.com
  • Internet Movie Database
  • Wikipedia
  • The Goodwin Games Photo Gallery

    Preview:






  • Anger Management

    Moving on to some news, we broke on Twitter on Friday that Fox will be airing episodes of the FX comedy Anger Management this June following encores of New Girl in its summer home of Mondays. The Charlie Sheen sitcom will air for four weeks, Mondays at 9:30pm beginning Monday, June 3. In fact, the first two weeks (June 3 and 10) will be episodes that have not been aired on FX yet, so they are completely brand new. The latter two weeks (June 17 and 24) will be repeats. The sitcom will preempt reruns of The Mindy Project for these four weeks only. Anger Management airs on FX every Thursday at 9:30pm. Fox is airing comedies on Mondays all summer starting tonight with reruns of Raising Hope at 8, new series The Goodwin Games at 8:30pm, reruns of New Girl at 9 and Anger Management at 9:30pm (sharing the time period with reruns of The Mindy Project, which launches tonight).

    In Anger Management, Charlie Sheen stars as Charlie, a non-traditional therapist specializing in anger management. He has a successful private practice, holding sessions with his group of primary patient regulars each week, as well as performing pro-Bono counseling for an inmate group at a state prison. Prior to his career as a therapist, Charlie was a major league baseball player whose career was sidetracked by his own struggle with anger issues. After making it to the majors and having one terrific season, his anger issues put him on the shelf for good when he snapped a bat over his leg, resulting in a career-ending injury. That injury led him back to school and to his current profession. Charlie thrives on the chaos in his life while still battling his own anger issues. His life is complicated by his relationships with his own therapist and best friend (Selma Blair), his ex-wife (Shawnee Smith) whose positive outlook but poor life choices frustrate Charlie, their 15 year-old daughter who has OCD (Daniela Bobadilla), and of course, his interfering and meddlesome father, Martin (Martin Sheen). Blair, Smith, Bobadilla, Barry Corbin, Michael Arden, Derek Richardson and Noureen DeWulf all co-star. Bruce Helford serves as Executive Producer/Showrunner. Joe Roth, Mark Burg, Dave Caplan, Bob Kushell and Vince Totino are Executive Producers. Anger Management is produced by Lionsgate Television and distributed by Debmar-Mercury. Stay with us for continued updates on this scheduling maneuver. Is it just for some extra exposure for the sitcom on FX? Probably, since it has struggled lately.


    Sitcoms Airing Tonight / Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows

    Wednesday, February 28

    The Conners - "Shrinks Don't Talk and Kids Don't Sing" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
    Mark adjusts to his first day of college as a commuter student; meanwhile, Becky gets into a disagreement with Beverly Rose’s music teacher over a song.

    Not Dead Yet - "Not Polite Yet" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
    Lexi combines the first two floors of the newsroom, leaving Nell to share a cubicle with T.J., a popular sportswriter who’s friends with everyone … except her.

    Abbott Elementary - "Breakup" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT)
    When Barbara’s church choir uses the gym for rehearsals, Ava notices tensions in the group. Jacob’s eagerness for a full social calendar worries Gregory. Melissa and Janine investigate a new substitute.

    That Girl Lay Lay - "Lay Lay Goes Away-Way" (Nickelodeon, 8:00PM ET/PT)
    Needing a best friend to talk to, Sadie wishes that phone avatar Lay Lay was real and could help teach her how to stand out; when Lay Lay is magically brought to life, the two friends learn that when they are together, they can accomplish anything.

    That Girl Lay Lay - "Out the App 2: E-Lay-Lay-tric Boogaloo" (Nickelodeon, 8:00PM ET/PT)
    Needing a best friend to talk to, Sadie wishes that phone avatar Lay Lay was real and could help teach her how to stand out; when Lay Lay is magically brought to life, the two friends learn that when they are together, they can accomplish anything.

    Complete TV Listings


    Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of February 26)

    Wednesday, February 28

    • Bob Odenkirk (The Larry Sanders Show) - Watch Bob on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
    • Carrie Preston (Crowded/Happyish/Emeril) - Carrie is a guest on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS. She talks about Elsbeth on CBS Mornings some time between 7-9am.
    • Austin Butler (Ruby & the Rockits/Zoey 101/Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide) - Austin appears on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
    • Jenny Slate (The Great North/Big Mouth/Married/Bob's Burgers) - Jenny is a guest on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
    • Fred Armisen (Los Espookys/Forever/Final Space) - Fred sits in with The 8G Band on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
    • Fortune Feimster (Kenan/Bless the Harts/Champions) and Tig Notaro (One Mississippi) - Fortune and Tig are guests on After Midnight at 12:37am on CBS.
    • Cheryl Hines (Curb Your Enthusiasm/Son of Zorn/Suburgatory) and Susie Essman (Curb Your Enthusiasm/Broad City/Baby Boom) - Cheryl and Susie are guests on Watch What Happens: Live at 10pm on Bravo
    • Zendaya (K.C. Undercover/Shake It Up) - E! News has an interview with Zendaya at 11pm on E!.
    • Alan Cumming (Schmigadoon!) - Alan is joining Drew and Ross Mathews at the Drew'ss News desk to discuss headlines like the Romy and Michele's High School Reunion sequel in the works and the American alternative to the Irish exit on The Drew Barrymore Show, so check your local listings.
    • Kim Fields (The Upshaws/Living Single/The Facts of Life/Baby, I'm Back) - Kim discusses her wellness retreat and the upcoming new season of Netflix's The Upshaws on Access Daily with Mario & Kit, so check your local listings.
    • Vivica A. Fox (Mr. Box Office/Getting Personal/Arsenio/Out All Night) and Michael Beach (The Game) - The cast of Soul Food reunite and discuss Hulu's new Black Stories Always on ABC's GMA 3: What You Need to Know at 1pm.
    • Diane Farr (Splitting Together/Like Family/The Job) - Diane discusses the CBS drama series Fire Country on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.


    New on DVD/Blu-ray (November-February)

    Leave it to Beaver - The Complete Series (Blu-ray) Father Knows Best - The Complete Series The Odd Couple - The Complete Series (Blu-ray) Three's Company - The Official 40th Anniversary Collection Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)

    11/07 - South Park - The Complete Twenty-Sixth Season (Blu-ray) (DVD)
    11/14 - Leave it to Beaver - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
    12/05 - Father Knows Best - The Complete Series
    12/05 - The Odd Couple - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
    12/12 - The Dick Van Dyke Show - The Complete Series
    12/12 - Looney Tunes Collector's Choice - Volume 2 (Blu-ray)
    12/12 - That Girl - The Complete Series
    12/15 - Letterkenny - Season 11
    12/19 - The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet - The Official Restored Complete Series
    12/22 - Three's Company - The Official 40th Anniversary Collection (includes The Ropers and Three's a Crowd)
    01/09 - South Park - Seasons 11-15 (Blu-ray)
    01/16 - Ghosts (UK) - Season Five
    02/13 - Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
    02/27 - The Really Loud House - Season One

    That Girl - The Complete Series The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet - The Official Restored Complete Series

    More Recent and Upcoming TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


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