Tuesday, October 01, 2013

ABC Fall Pilot Review: Super Fun Night - Premieres Oct. 2; Fox Flips Those Burgers for Season 5 of Bob's Burgers

Super Fun Night

Super Fun Night - Wednesdays at 9:30PM ET/PT on ABC
Premieres Wednesday, October 2, 2013 at 9:30PM ET/PT


by Vincent

Super Fun Night is a new single-camera comedy from Conan O'Brien starring breakout actress Rebel Wilson that stars a group of misfit young adults vowing to get out of their houses every Friday night and have a "super fun night" together. The series also follows Wilson's character Kimmy Boubier as she attempts to sustain a successful career as a lawyer while still maintaining her unique personality.

Cast Details:

Rebel Wilson as Kimmy Boubier
Liza Lipara as Helen-Alice
Lauren Ash as Marika
Kevin Bishop as Richard Lovell
Kate Jenkinson as Kendall

Rebel Wilson (Kimmy Boubier) is an Australian actress with a large background in comedy, including the Australian comedy Pizza and the musical comedy series Bogan Pride – which she wrote, produced, and starred in. Her breakout role in the United States came in 2011's Bridesmaids, and her fame escalated in 2012 after starring in the popular musical-comedy film Pitch Perfect.

Liza Lipara (Helen-Alice) has recently starred in sitcoms such as Traffic Light and Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23. She has also appeared in a handful of films, including Domino, The Big Band Swim, and Crazy Stupid Love. She has also guest starred in many shows, including NCIS, Dexter, ER, Sex and the City, and The Sopranos.

Lauren Ash (Marika) has starred in several television series, including Almost Heroes and Howie Do It. She also has written for several shorts and mini-seires, including Trashy Affair and Facebook of Revelations.

Kevin Bishop (Richard Lovell) is an English comedian best known for his show The Kevin Bishop Show. He has also starred in films such as Muppet Treasure Island, Grange Hill, and Dick Whittington.

Kate Jenkinson (Kendall) is an Australian actress best known for her work on the comedy The Wedge. She has also starred in films such as Rush, Bogan Pride, Canal Road, and Newstopia.


Pilot Plot:

"Anything for Love" (airs Wednesday, October 2 at 9:30 PM ET/PT)

In the premiere episode of Super Fun Night, Kimmie wants the gang to broaden their horizons and try something they've never done before – but her attitude changes when she is forced to face her fear of singing in public and perform at a piano bar. Meanwhile, Kendall can't understand why Richard and Kimmie are friends and plans to do something about it. This episode is actually the second episode of the series - ABC appears to be skipping the pilot for now.

Analysis:

It is not hard to see how Super Fun Night could be a good show. Rebel Wilson almost seems born to be a big TV star, with an appealing personality and a great sense of humor that's destined to appeal to mass audiences. The show also has a pretty impressive writing staff on deck - most notably its showrunner, longtime 30 Rock writer John Riggi. It has a vibe that is very reminiscent of the dearly departed Happy Endings, a hilarious show with an all-star cast that unfortunately never picked up enough of an audience. It desperately wants to capture that hang-out vibe that Happy Endings as well as shows like New Girl and Cougar Town have been able to nail down to a tee, the kind of show where you almost feel like you're just hanging out with a bunch of friends every time you sit down and watch it. When done right, these kinds of comedies are often some of the most fun shows on TV, and maintain a connection to their audience that few shows can match. But a hang-out comedy is really hard to do right. It needs incredibly strong jokes and intensely relatable characters that can keep its viewers entertained, despite the relative lack of premise. Without this, the show can feel cloying and directionless, meandering around and trying to do just about anything to keep you entertained. That's why I'm always really weary of hang-out comedies. The good ones are often among my favorite shows on TV, but the bad ones are always a serious chore to sit through.

Super Fun Night, unfortunately, mostly falls into the latter category. It's not terrible, and there are some really funny jokes in the mix. Rebel Wilson remains an appealing comic force, although her energy is toned down a lot from her Bridesmaids and Pitch Perfect characters (not necessarily a bad decision, because those characters would be far too broad to build a good sitcom around). The other performances are mostly fine, although Liza Lipara is the only one who really gets a chance to do anything at all. It's just sort of a show that really has almost nothing to it at this point, other than "here's Rebel Wilson in a sitcom." The premise is paper-thin and the show barely pays any attention to it at all, instead relying on a very contrived storyline about Kimmy facing stage fright that wouldn't feel out of place on a Disney or Nick sitcom. There's weirdly a total lack of comic momentum, as the show will move from periods of rapid-fire jokes to long stretches without anything resembling jokes at all. I'm not expecting to laugh too much at a pilot, but there are periods where it feels like the show just flat-out forgot that it's a comedy and it's supposed to be funny. We don't really get any sense of why these people are friends with each other or what kind of relationship they have with each other - there's a mild resentment forming between Kimmy and Kendall that apparently is related to their affection for Richard, but it's not given the development it needs to make an impact. It's possible that some of this was explained in the scrapped pilot, but none of it's made clear in the episode that's now being used as the shows' premiere. In short, there's really nothing here to hate – it's not, say, Dads - but there's really nothing to like, either.

Having said that, I wouldn't be completely surprised if this show became the best comedy on TV by the end of its first season (assuming it lasts that long). These kinds of shows take time to develop into something worthwhile – the early episodes of Happy Endings, New Girl, and Cougar Town had some of the same issues, before eventually finding their voice, developing their characters and turning into top-notch hang-out sitcoms. I'm not completely optimistic, because the problems here feel more significant than the problems with any of those shows at their starts. But it's not a show I'm willing to write off completely just yet.

Conclusion:

Super Fun Night isn't a trainwreck, but it's also really nothing worth checking out at this point, unless you're a big Rebel Wilson fan and want to see her in a TV comedy. There are promising elements at play here – a solid creative team, a great leading lady, some pretty good joke writing – but the show is held back by its aimlessness and its lack of definition in just about every category. There's no clear premise or brand of humor, and any character that isn't played by Rebel Wilson feels like a hollow archetype. These are fixable problems, and hopefully the show will remedy them over the course of the first season. Until then, this feels very much like a sitcom that should amount to much more than it does.

Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):

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

Discuss the show after you watch it on Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013 at 9:30PM ET/PT on our message board.

Related Links:

  • ABC.com Official Site
  • TV.com
  • epguides.com
  • Internet Movie Database
  • Wikipedia
  • Super Fun Night Photo Gallery

    Preview:






  • Bob's Burgers

    Fox has renewed the Emmy Award-nominated Bob's Burgers for a fifth season, ordering 22 additional episodes of the hit animated series. The fourth "broadcast" season premiered on Sunday night (Sept. 29). The series is still fulfilling its third season episode order to start this fourth season. The fifth season order will have episodes airing through the 2015-16 season. Last season, Bob's Burgers was a Top 10 comedy among Men 18-49, Men 18-34 and is one of the Top 10 comedies among Male Teens. Additionally, Bob's Burgers was one of only two broadcast comedies to post year-over-year gains (+10%) among Adults 18-49. On the season premiere this past Sunday, "A River Runs Through Bob," Bob (H. Jon Benjamin), Linda (John Roberts) and the kids go on a camping adventure and face the perils of nature...and Bob's intestines.

    Bob's Burgers follows the ups and downs of Bob (Benjamin), who runs Bob's Burgers with the help of his wife, Linda (Roberts), and their three kids, Tina (Dan Mintz), Gene (Eugene Mirman) and Louise (Kristen Schaal). Bob has big ideas about burgers, but his family falls short on service. Despite the greasy counters and lousy location, Bob and his family are determined to make every "Grand Re-Re-Re-opening" a success. This past season, the series received its second Emmy Award nomination for "Outstanding Animated Comedy Series."


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