Tuesday, September 24, 2019

NBC Fall Pilot Review: Perfect Harmony - Premieres Thursday (Sept. 26); CBS Fall Pilot Review: The Unicorn - Premieres Thursday (Sept. 26)

Perfect Harmony

Perfect Harmony - Thursdays at 8:30PM ET/PT on NBC
Premieres Thursday, September 26, 2019 at 8:30PM ET/PT


by Vincent

Perfect Harmony is a comedy about finding inspiration in the most unlikely places. When former Princeton music professor Arthur Cochran unexpectedly stumbles into choir practice at a small-town church, he finds a group of singers that are out of tune in more ways than one. Despite the ultimate clash of sensibilities, Arthur and his newfound cohorts may just be the perfect mix of individuals to help each other reinvent and rediscover a little happiness, just when they all need it most.

Cast Details:

Bradley Whitford as Arthur Cochran
Anna Camp as Ginny
Will Greenberg as Wayne
Tymberlee Hill as Adams
Geno Segers as Shep
Rizwan Manji as Jax

Bradley Whitford (Arthur) is an actor best known for his portrayal of White House Deputy Chief of Staff Josh Lyman in the NBC political drama The West Wing. He is also known for many other roles, including Dan Stark in the Fox police buddy-comedy The Good Guys, antagonist Eric Gordon in the film Billy Madison, and Dean Armitage in the popular horror film Get Out. He also starred opposite Malin Akerman in the TV comedy Trophy Wife.

Anna Camp (Ginny) is an actress best known for her role as Aubrey Poson in the Pitch Perfect movie series. She is also known for her role as Sarah Newlin on HBO's True Blood and for recurring roles on Mad Men, The Good Wife and The Mindy Project.

Will Greenberg (Wayne) is an American actor, and Perfect Harmony will be his first major acting role.

Tymberlee Hill (Adams) is an American actress and comedian, best known for her roles on comedy programs such as Drunk History, The Hotwives and Search Party.

Geno Segers (Shep) is known for his roles as Chayton Littlestone on Cinemax's Banshee, Mason Makoola in the Disney XD television series Pair of Kings, and Kincaid on MTV's Teen Wolf.

Rizwan Manji (Jax) is an American actor known for his role on NBC's Outsourced and ABC's Better off Ted.

Pilot Plot:

"Pilot" (Airs Thursday, Sep. 26 at 8:30PM ET)

When former Princeton music professor Arthur Cochran unexpectedly stumbles into choir practice at a small-town church, he finds a group of singers that are out of tune in more ways than one. Despite the ultimate clash of sensibilities, Arthur and his newfound cohorts may just be the perfect mix of individuals to help each other reinvent and rediscover a little happiness, just when they all need it most.

Analysis:

Well, I'm just going to come out and say it: Perfect Harmony has a real odd premise. You have to give the show credit for just getting out there with such a unique premise and committing to it. After watching years and years of sitcom pilots that essentially follow the same formula - so many "see how this family is just a little quirky" or "this group of 20-somethings sure love to hang out with each other" - Perfect Harmony is at least something I haven't seen before: a sitcom about a church choir. It's an odd concept, one that I can't expect NBC to actually expect to draw a huge audience. Still, even with its odd premise, there are comparisons that immediately come to mind. In some ways, it feels a little like a more comedic, more adult version of Glee - it certainly has that same "people from different walks of life come together by the power of music" vibe. You could even make Pitch Perfect comparisons (which Perfect Harmony shares a major star with in Anna Camp.) Even Community comes to mind, with its "privileged jerk learns how to love through an unconventional group of oddballs" vibe. In fact, that's probably my biggest gripe with the series. For as seemingly strange as the concept is, the show itself feels kind of by-the-numbers and "been there, done that," which I didn't expect from a show about, well, a neighborhood church choir.

Perfect Harmony has an all-star cast, and they do their best, combined with the admittedly different premise, to make the show worth watching. And the show, frankly, isn't an unpleasant watch - the jokes are fun enough, it has a quick and zippy pace, and it's pleasant enough to pass the time. But it also feels content to basically be "Glee, but with church choirs," and the problem with that is that we've all already seen and gotten over Glee. Like what that show became, Perfect Harmony is a show that seems like it's a lot of gloss with not as much substance as it likes to think it has. It's sort of like junk food - it's not bad, and it'll satisfy you for a little, but then you realize you could be doing more with your time. I'd like nothing more than a weird church choir show to live up to its potential, but from what I've seen of Perfect Harmony, it seems content with being just "okay."

Conclusion:

Perfect Harmony is not a bad or unpleasant series, and if you're sitting down to watch Superstore and The Good Place live, it's just good enough to keep you from changing the channel in between the two shows. The cast is very enjoyable to watch, there are some very good jokes, and the show's overall vibe is light and fun. But it's also a show that feels like it could be more than just "kind of fun" with a weird premise and a great cast, and from what I've seen so far, there's not much indication that the show has much of a desire to find that potential.

Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):

Watchability: 3/5
Funniness: 3/5
Overall: 3/5

Discuss the show after you watch it on Thursday, September 26, 2019 at 8:30PM ET/PT on our message board.

Related Links:

  • NBC.com Official Site
  • TV.com
  • epguides.com
  • Internet Movie Database
  • Wikipedia
  • Perfect Harmony Photo Gallery

    Preview:





  • The Unicorn

    The Unicorn - Thursdays at 8:30PM ET/PT on CBS
    Premieres Thursday, September 26, 2019 at 8:30PM ET/PT


    by Todd

    The Unicorn is a single-camera comedy about a tight-knit group of best friends and family who help Wade (Walton Goggins) embrace his "new normal" in the wake of the loss of his wife one year ago. As a sometimes ill-equipped but always devoted single parent to his two adolescent daughters, he is taking the major step of dating again. To Wade's amazement, he's a hot commodity with women, and his friends explain that he’s the perfect single guy – a "unicorn": employed, attractive and with a proven track record of commitment. With his daughters and best friends rooting him on and hoping he'll find happiness again, Wade and his healing heart are ready to try life... and love... again.

    Cast Details:

    Walton Goggins as Wade
    Rob Corddry as Forrest
    Michaela Watkins as Delia
    Omar Benson Miller as Ben
    Maya Lynne Robinson as Michelle
    Ruby Jay as Grace
    Makenzie Moss as Natalie
    Devin Bright as Noah

    Walton Goggins (Wade) stars as Baby Bill Freeman in HBO's The Righteous Gemstones. He earlier starred in the HBO comedy Vice Principals. He received an Emmy nomination for his portrayal of Boyd Crowder on the Peabody Award-winning drama series Justified. His other starring roles include The Shield, Six and Deep State.

    Rob Corddry (Forrest) currently stars as Joe Krutel in the HBO comedy-drama Ballers. He is a four-time Emmy Award winner for his work on the satirical comedy series Childrens Hospital, which he created, starred in and executive produced. Some of his other sitcom credits include The Winner, Community, Happy Endings, Ben and Kate and Speechless.

    Michaela Watkins (Delia) is best known for starring on the Hulu series Casual and on the short-lived ABC sitcom Trophy Wife. Some of her sitcom guest appearances include The New Adventures of Old Christine, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Enlightened, New Girl, Modern Family, Married, Transparent and The Goldbergs.

    Omar Benson Miller (Ben) currently stars as Charles Greane in the HBO comedy-drama Ballers. He was a regular on CSI: Miami as Walter Simmons. Some of his other television credits include The West Wing, Sex, Love & Secrets, Eleventh Hour. He was the voice of Raph in Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

    Maya Lynne Robinson's (Michelle) appeared as Geena Williams-Conner in the first season of ABC's The Conners. Some of her other television credits include Nightwing: Escalation, Monogamy, HTMAST, Gurl and Mom.

    Ruby Jay (Grace) had the leading role as Holly Hobbie in Holly Hobbie. Some of her other television credits include Grey's Anatomy, Modern Family and Fancy Nancy.

    Makenzie Moss (Natalie) has made guest appearances in CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, About a Boy, Blunt Talk and black-ish.

    Devin Bright (Noah) has made guest appearances in Toddler vs. Toddler, Underground, Hap and Leonard and Bobcat Goldthwait's Misfits & Monsters.

    Pilot Plot:

    "Pilot" (Airs Thursday, Sep. 26 at 8:30PM ET)

    Walton Goggins stars in a comedy about a tight-knit group of best friends and family who helps Wade (Goggins) embrace his “new normal” in the wake of the loss of his wife one year ago.
    Guest Stars: Natalie Ceballos as Tracy Wilvers, Bianca Kajlich as Danielle

    The Unicorn is a single-camera comedy produced by CBS Television Studios and is executive produced by Bill Martin, Mike Schiff, Aaron Kaplan, Dana Honor, Wendi Trilling, Peyton Reed and John Hamburg (pilot only). Hamburg directed the pilot from a script by Martin and Schiff. The series is based on the real-life experience of Grady Cooper, a friend of show creators Martin and Schiff.

    Analysis:

    The "Pilot" episode is well produced with a nice mix of comedy and poignant moments. It's very fast-paced with many different scenes and shooting locations. The funniest scene is when Wade makes his online dating profile and starts receiving responses. Another amusing thing are the dogs on the counters and tables. Maybe that's more common than it seems, but you don't see it very often on television. It's interesting that they originally wanted to make this a multi-camera sitcom in front of a studio audience instead of a single-camera comedy. The only real issue I have is how they edited it with too many quick cutaways and jump shots. It has more of a look and feel as a multi-camera sitcom. I think they just tried to cram in as much background story and explain the premise of "the unicorn" as they could in 22 minutes. Hopefully they will slow the pace down and have longer scenes in future episodes. Composer Gabriel Mann's upbeat music also stands out and enhances the episode.

    The cast has many experienced TV veterans and several promising newcomers. Walton Goggins is a versatile and underappreciated actor who usually plays unlikable characters, so it's great to see him play a nice guy as a change of pace. Rob Corddry and Michaela Watkins have played a married couple before in the film In a World..., so they have great chemistry, comedic timing and expressions. Corddry's Ballers co-star Omar Benson Miller is solid in his role, as is relative newcomer Maya Lynne Robinson. Ruby Jay and Makenzie Moss look to have sizable roles as Wade's daughters. They are natural young actresses and could pass as real-life sisters. The lovely Natalie Ceballos and Bianca Kajlich from Rules of Engagement make notable guest appearances in the "Pilot" episode. Wade is quite the babe magnet. They have some other good guest stars in upcoming episodes such as Nicole Byer (as Michelle's sister), Christina Moore and Betsy Brandt. It's a bit unusual for comedies to get many recognizable guest stars so early in their first season.

    Conclusion:

    The Unicorn has the potential to be a sleeper hit of the season. It has all of the ingredients needed for success. They have a talented cast and crew, a nice blend of comedy and drama and a plum timeslot on the most-watched broadcast network. I wasn't initially a big fan of The Unicorn as a title for a series because I wasn't familiar with it being a term in the online dating world as describing the perfect single guy. The title makes it seem that being a good single father is a rare thing, but that's clearly not always the case. Many widowed fathers should be able to relate to the Wade character, which is played very well by the underrated Walton Goggins. Wade is somebody that will be easy to root for as the season progresses. Goggins usually plays unlikable psychopath characters, so it's great to seeing him in a likable, comedic role as a sweet, caring father.

    CBS is giving people plenty of opportunities to sample The Unicorn with it being available for streaming early on CBS.com, the CBS mobile app, Amazon Prime, Apple TV and on Roku. They really couldn't ask for a better timeslot between Young Sheldon and Mom, the #2 and #3 rated comedies from last season. The Unicorn is a very funny, charming and heartwarming family comedy that viewers should enjoy once they discover it.

    Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):

    Watchability: 3.5/5
    Funniness: 3.5/5
    Overall: 3.5/5

    Discuss the show after you watch it on Thursday, September 26, 2019 at 8:30PM ET/PT on our message board.

    Related Links:

  • CBS.com Official Site
  • TV.com
  • epguides.com
  • Internet Movie Database
  • Wikipedia
  • The Unicorn Photo Gallery

    Preview:


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