Tuesday, September 30, 2014

ABC Fall Pilot Review: Manhattan Love Story - Premieres Tuesday, Sept. 30; ABC Family Picks Up Young & Hungry for 2nd Season, and New Drama

Manhattan Love Story

Manhattan Love Story - Tuesdays at 8:30PM ET/PT on ABC
Premieres Tuesday, September 30, 2014 at 8:30PM ET/PT


by Todd

Manhattan Love Story is an innovative new romantic comedy based on a simple premise: the way to maintain relationships – with a lover, a spouse, a co-worker, a friend or a family – is by keeping a majority of thoughts to one’s self. Dana (Analeigh Tipton, Crazy, Stupid, Love) and Peter (Jake McDorman, Greek, Shameless), who navigate the complicated terrain of building and maintaining a relationship, are the heart of the story. Throughout the series, the audience will hear Dana and Peter’s inner thoughts, offering a fun and revealing look at the differences of men and women as this couple traverse the highs and lows of dating.

Cast Details:

Analeigh Tipton as Dana
Jake McDorman as Peter
Nicolas Wright as David
Jada Catta-Preta as Amy
Chloe Wepper as Chloe
Kurt Fuller as William

Analeigh Tipton (Dana) is known for her roles in the films Crazy, Stupid, Love and Warm Bodies. Her other recent and upcoming film credits include Damsels in Distress, Two Night Stand, Lucy, 4 Minute Mile and Mississippi Grind. She had a recurring role in the final season of Hung.

Jake McDorman (Peter) is best known for his role as Evan Chambers in Greek and as Mike Pratt in Shameless. He had regular roles in the sitcoms Quintuplets and Are You There, Chelsea?. His film credits include Aquamarine, Bring It On: All or Nothing and Live Free or Die Hard.

Nicolas Wright (David) co-starred in the Jenna Elfman sitcom Accidentally on Purpose in 2009. His film credits include Hatley High, Afghan Luke and White House Down.

Jada Catta-Preta (Amy) is a writer, actress and stand-up comedian. She is best known for her recurring role in Californication. Her other guest starring roles include 2 Broke Girls and Sullivan & Son.

Chloe Wepper (Chloe) makes her debut as a series regular in Manhattan Love Story. Her credits include the TV movie Counseling Crazy and a guest appearance in Criminal Minds.

Kurt Fuller (William) had lead roles in ABC's Better with You and Big Day. Some of his many television credits include Glee, Ugly Betty, CSI, Men of a Certain Age, Grey's Anatomy, House, My Name Is Earl, Monk and Drop Dead Diva. His film credits include Wayne's World, Anger Management, Midnight in Paris, Scary Movie, Ghostbusters II and Auto Focus.

Pilot Plot:

"Pilot" (Tuesday, Sept. 30 at 8:30PM ET/PT)

The audience is introduced to Dana and Peter: young, single and attractive making their way in the big city. Dana grew up in a small town with her sights set on New York romanticizing about the life and love it had to offer while Peter, by contrast, grew up there and feels like he has been there and done that when it comes to life in Manhattan. Dana is determined to succeed in New York in both business and love, while Peter is perfectly content to go on dating his way through it. While it is the streets of New York that offers this duo a first glimpse of each other, it’s family and friends who conspire to set them up. The audience will go along for the ride as they venture on their first date and hear exactly what they really think of each other.

Analysis:

Manhattan Love Story is a single-camera comedy produced by ABC Studios. The series was created and is written by Jeff Lowell (The Drew Carey Show, Spin City). Peter Traugott, Jeff Lowell, Robin Schwartz, Rachel Kaplan and Jon Liebman are executive producers. Michael Fresco directed the pilot.

In the "Pilot" episode, we are introduced to Peter checking out women on the streets of New York. Meanwhile, Dana looks at the purses of various women. They first catch a quick glimpse of each other. Dana talks to her college roommate Amy and her husband Peter about going to her first day of work. They want to set her up on a date with Peter, who is David's brother. After Dana and Peter check out each other's profile pictures, Dana meets her boss and co-workers. Dana and Peter text each other and talk on the phone. Their blind date gets off to a bit of a rough start. Dana mentions that she has a bucket list of locations she wants to visit and things she wants to do in New York City. After hearing about the problems of the date, Amy and David try to convince Peter to try again. Peter later helps Dana cross two items off her bucket list.

The "Pilot" episode provides a good introduction to the characters and sets up the basic premise of the show. They did a nice job of squeezing in many different locations and about 15 scenes into the episode. It's a decent episode and has a few funny moments, but there were no outrageously funny lines or moments. There is a good mix of comedy and heart, but they could definitely use more comedic situations.

They have put together a cast of relative newcomers with some experienced veterans. Analeigh Tipton is a fresh face who I remember from her scene-stealing role as the babysitter in Crazy, Stupid, Love.. She certainly could be one of the breakout stars of the fall season. Jake McDorman has appeared in a variety of television series. He does a good job of playing "the dude" and player here. The other actors really don't stand out in the pilot. Their characters need to be further developed and become more likable. The family set up is a bit complicated. The father has been married three times. The children all have different mothers. A disappointment is that Kurt Fuller, the father and the owner of the business, has only a brief scene. He was very funny in Better with You and brings a veteran comedy presence to the show. The series would benefit greatly by expanding his role in future episodes.

One of the storytelling devices of the series is that we can hear the inner thoughts of Dana and Peter. Narration in shows isn't rare these days, but they have put a unique spin on it here. I thought it was too gimmicky and overdone in the pilot episode. Tipton and McDorman have expressive faces, so I think it would work better in moderation. They did tone it down a bit in the second episode. I wouldn't want to see them eliminate it entirely, but they need to find the right balance and situations in which to use it. If they overuse it, then it could become annoying to viewers.

The series is filmed in New York. It would have been easy for them to shoot a few exterior shots in New York City and the rest in Los Angeles, but filming on the real streets and locations adds to the flavor and authenticity. It's one of the most iconic romantic cities. New York City is really like the 7th character of the show. Dana's bucket list of locations she wants to visit will allow them to go to various locations around the city. Dana and Peter visit one of the most famous tourist attractions at the end of the episode.

Conclusion:

Manhattan Love Story has a simple premise of a small-town woman dating and eventually falling in love with a New York City native. Although the pilot is watchable and has a few funny moments, there are really no laugh-out-loud lines or scenes. It's supposed to be fun to watch people fall in love. Hopefully they show more of that in future episodes. The show does have some potential and good things working in its favor. Analeigh Tipton is cute and has a fresh face. Her Dana character is very likable and somebody you want to see succeed. Tipton and McDorman have some good chemistry already in the first two episodes. Another plus is that the show is filmed in New York. If you want to film a romantic comedy, there are few better places.

The show would benefit from a few tweaks. The inner thoughts storytelling technique is too gimmicky and overused in the pilot. It gets old and annoying fairly quickly. You only get one chance to make a good first impression. The inner thoughts technique could be an immediate turn-off to some viewers. Thankfully they did tone it down a bit in the second episode airing next week. Another issue is that the talented and funny Kurt Fuller is way underutilized. The show needs more funny lines and situations. He can help deliver them.

This looks to be the year of the romantic comedy series on television. ABC has paired it with Selfie on Tuesday nights. They appear to be good matches because of their references to social media, texting and internet speak. There haven't been any successful and long-running romantic comedies in recent years other than Mike & Molly and New Girl. I think they generally work better as 90-minute films. They really don't stretch well into full series. Manhattan Love Story is airing in a challenging timeslot, so it will be difficult for them to attract a large audience. They have a good cast in place, but they will just need more time to develop the supporting characters and funnier storylines.

Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):

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

Discuss the show after you watch it on Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014 at 8:30PM ET/PT on our message board.

Related Links:

  • ABC.com Official Site
  • TV.com
  • epguides.com
  • Internet Movie Database
  • Wikipedia
  • Manhattan Love Story Photo Gallery

    Preview:





  • Young & Hungry

    ABC Family announced the network has picked up its first procedural drama Stitchers to series and has ordered a second season of new comedy series Young & Hungry. But in some sad news, the sitcom Mystery Girls has been canceled. Stitchers is a procedural drama series written by Jeffrey A. Schechter. Stitchers follows a young woman recruited into a covert government agency to be ‘stitched’ into the minds of the recently deceased using their memories to investigate murders and decipher mysteries that otherwise would have gone to the grave. The pilot was written by Jeffrey A. Schechter, who will executive produce alongside Jonathan Baruch and Rob Wolken.

    Young & Hungry is an original comedy series where two worlds collide when Josh, a wealthy young entrepreneur, hires feisty Gabi to be his personal chef. Young & Hungry is produced by David Holden, Ashley Tisdale, Jessica Rhoades, Caryn Lucas and Eric Tannenbaum and Kim Tannenbaum in association with CBS Television Studios. Gabi Moskowitz, a San Francisco based food blogger, of BrokeAssGourmet.com, contributed to the development of this project. The show stars Emily Osment, Jonathan Sadowski, Aimee Carrero, Kym Whitley, and Rex Lee. Young & Hungry ranks as basic cable's #1 telecast in its time period in Adults 18-34, and Women 18-34, as well as other key demos. The show was nominated for two Teen Choice Awards for Choice Summer TV Show, and Choice Summer TV Star – Female for Emily Osment.


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    In this one-night-only event, an all-star lineup of talent will tackle the roles first portrayed in the iconic television sitcom “The Facts of Life,” including Jennifer Aniston playing the role of Blair, Gabrielle Union taking on the role of Tootie, Allison Tolman who will play Natalie and Kathryn Hahn recreating the role of Jo. Previously announced “Diff’rent Strokes” cast member Ann Dowd is also set to appear as Mrs. Garrett in this recreation of “The Facts of Life.” The Sony Pictures Television special can also be viewed the next day on demand and on Hulu.

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