Wednesday, October 07, 2020

NBC Fall Pilot Review: Connecting... - Premieres Thursday (Oct. 8); Supernatural Gets Marathons on TNT as Series Finale Airs Nov. 19 on The CW

Connecting...


Connecting... - Thursdays at 8:30PM ET/PT on NBC
Premieres Thursday, October 8, 2020 at 8:00PM ET/PT


by Vincent

Connecting... is a new socially distanced comedy about a group of friends staying connected through video chats, much as many groups of friends were doing (and in some cases, still are doing) at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. The show is unique in that it is shot entirely remotely on iPhones, reflecting the extraordinary times that we live in.

Cast Details:

Ely Henry as Rufus
Jill Knox as Michelle
Keith Powell as Garrett
Otmara Marrero as Annie
Parvesh Cheena as Pradeep
Preacher Lawson as Ben
Shakina Nayfack as Ellis

Ely Henry (Rufus) is an actor best known for his supporting roles in films such as Mean Girls and Cheaper By the Dozen 2 and in TV series such as Suburgatory and Good Luck Charlie.

Jill Knox (Michelle) is an up and coming actress. She has previously appeared in shorts. Connecting... will be her first major starring role.

Keith Powell (Garrett) is an American actor best known for his role as Toofer on 30 Rock. He has also appeared in many other TV shows as a guest star, including Superstore, NCIS: Los Angeles and Grace and Frankie.

Otmarra Marreo (Annie) is an American actress known for her role on ABC's New York Undercover and Crackle's original series Start Up. She has also appeared on shows such as Ballers and Graceland.

Parvesh Cheena (Pradeep) is an American actor best known for his roles as Gupta in NBC's Outsourced and as Sunil Odhav on The CW's Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.

Preacher Lawson (Ben) is an American comedian best known as a contestant on America's Got Talent. He has his own BET+ comedy special.

Shakina Nayfack (Ellis) is an American actress and comedy writer best known for her work on the Hulu original comedy Difficult People, which she both wrote for and starred in as Lola.

Pilot Plot:

"Pilot" (Airs Thursday, October at 8:00PM ET)

As the friend group gathers at the start of quarantine for their new-normal virtual hang, Annie contemplates opening up to Ben about her feelings for him. Meanwhile, everyone worries about Jazmin, who's been MIA.

Analysis:

Connecting... is the type of show that we will look back on in 20 years and be immediately taken back into this moment in time. There have always been sitcoms tied to their time, but I don't think there's ever one that will be as tied to the time it aired as Connecting... The idea of a group of friends staying together over video chat due to a global pandemic is certainly the most 2020 concept for a show you could come up with, and in a few years when this pandemic is thankfully behind us, it’s all going to feel a little odd and certainly dated. In fact, since the lockdown measures of the spring have mostly been lifted, you could argue the concept already feels just slightly dated, as Zoom happy hours aren’t quite as needed as they were back in March or April. There are also references to things that are no longer true (a sports-obsessed character laments the lack of sports, which obviously is no longer the case, and it treats New York City as the COVID epicenter it was in April but no longer is.) And that sort of lies the problem with Connecting. It's more of an 8-part “special” than a sitcom, in a lot of ways, specifically designed for this current moment. As soon as this moment ends, it’s unlikely anyone will be reaching back for the show. And yet, for this moment in time, it’s a pretty solid and likable show, for what it is.

I’m not going to argue that Connecting... is necessarily a great show, but it is oddly appealing in some ways. It reminds me a lot of the “hangout” sitcoms that were popular in the early 2010s, along the lines of something like Cougar Town or Happy Endings. It’s not nearly as funny or well-made as those shows (and I did find myself comparing it unfavorably to the virtual Happy Endings reunion episode that had a similar premise), but watching characters and likable actors express some of the struggles we’ve been going through was oddly cathartic. I also have to give a lot of props to the actors. Acting and forming a character in a video chat is something that can’t be easy, but the actors do a really good job with it. I was particularly impressed with Shakina Nayfack, who gives her all into her character and really made her character come alive. (I also really related to her line that “sports give me something to constantly think about in the background, which is very therapeutic.” I have to say I had some identical thoughts during the sports drought of the spring.) It’s also impressive that the entire show was shot remotely on iPhones - the editing and production quality is impressive considering that. Additionally, the show does a good job of making light of our odd reality while not belittling it. A main character who is a healthcare worker goes on a heartwrenching but all too real rant, showing that the show is willing to deal with the pandemic seriously. Overall, Connecting... isn’t a show that I really expect to last beyond its initial episode order just because of the novelty of its premise, nor is it a show I expect to make the “best sitcoms ever” list anytime soon. But it’s a funny and likable time capsule, and in a world where we’re short on new content, it does the trick.

Conclusion:

Connecting... isn’t a great show, but it’s a pleasant and likable one that’s actually pretty impressive in the scope of its production. The cast of mostly generally green performers is likable and they do a good job doing the difficult task of forming a sitcom character without the benefit of being able to interact in person or play off each other in any physical way. It’s not a show you’ll be itching to watch for years to come, but it’s a likable enough capsule of this moment in time.



Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):

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

Discuss the show after you watch it on Thursday, October 8, 2020 at 8:00PM ET/PT on our message board.

Related Links:

  • NBC.com Official Site
  • epguides.com
  • Internet Movie Database
  • Wikipedia
  • Connecting... Photo Gallery

    Preview:

  • Supernatural

    WarnerMedia comes together to celebrate the final season of The CW and Warner Bros. Television's Supernatural with two special marathons on TNT.

    On October 6-8, TNT will air the first 13 episodes of Season 15, providing fans with the opportunity to catch up on the final season.

    Additionally, on November 19 from 5:00am to 8:00pm ET/PT, TNT will host a 15-hour Supernatural marathon as a countdown to the two-hour series finale event, airing later that evening on The CW. This “best of” marathon will include one episode from each season along with interstitials featuring unique behind-the-scenes clips and anecdotes from the cast.


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    Tyler Perry's House of Payne - "Bearer of Bad News" (BET, 8:00PM ET/PT)
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    Complete TV Listings


    Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of October 25)

    Tuesday, October 26

    • Drew Barrymore (Santa Clarita Diet) - Catch Drew on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:35pm on NBC.
    • Alyssa Milano (Who's the Boss?/Romantically Challenged) - Alyssa appears on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT. She will also be on NBC's Today in the 9am hour.
    • Victoria Jackson (Strip Mall/Romeo!) - Victoria is a guest on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
    • Whitney Cummings (Whitney) - Whitney guest hosts The Wendy Williams Show, so check your local listings.
    • Tori Spelling (Mystery Girls/So Notorious) - Tori appears on The Wendy Williams Show, so check your local listings.
    • Alan Cumming (Schmigadoon!) - Alan is a guest on CBS This Morning sometime between 7-9am.
    • Tisha Campbell (Dr. Ken/Rita Rocks/My Wife and Kids/The Jamie Foxx Show/Martin)- Tisha talks about Netflix's Inside Job on Access Daily, so check your local listings.


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