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.


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    • Kathryn Hahn (Central Park/Happyish/Transparent/Free Agents) - Catch Kathryn on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:35pm on NBC.
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