NBC certainly could use a new hit comedy. Will 1600 Penn be a big success or will it be cancelled before the first season finishes airing? Is it even worth watching?
1600 Penn revolves around the Gilchrist clan. They’re a typical American family — except for the fact that they live in the White House. A particular challenge for the administration is the eldest son who’s a goofball and who’s recently moved back home. The cast includes Bill Pullman, Jenna Elfman, Josh Gad, Martha MacIsaac, Amara Miller, Benjamin Stockham, and Andre Holland.
Sound interesting or like a big flop? Here’s what some of the critics are saying:
THR: “Gad is so relentlessly spot-on as Skip, a slacker kid who never really has grown up — even after seven years of college — that he can keep the parts moving while viewers try to figure out whether the premise is ripe for jokes. No worries there: By the second episode, 1600 Penn neatly has found its compass on how to be a show about the first family and how to define the ensemble.”
LA Times: “It’s as if The Beverly Hillbillies had been conceived as Jethro! There’s an old actor’s warning against playing with children or dogs, and Gad is a bit of both. As the quirkiest character here by several lengths, he rules every scene he’s in. It’s not so much that a little of him goes a long way — he’s an adroit actor, and his breathy, singsongy way with Skip feels original, until it feels tiring — as that there’s just a lot of him here. He obscures the view, or becomes it, and he can make the rest of the show seem sort of beside the point.”
Boston Globe: “Becca, we learn early on, is pregnant after a one-night stand. It’s a White House nightmare — that seems to be the situational formula in each episode — and it gives MacIsaac an opportunity to shine as the smart kid who did something stupid. One of the show’s creators is Jason Winer, director-producer on Modern Family, and I’m hoping he will do for the kids on 1600 Penn what he has helped to do with the kids on Modern Family. It’s great to find young characters on TV who aren’t merely clever little cellphone addicts or lisping cuties. Think of Manny on Modern Family, who is in a class by himself. If the members of the 1600 Penn ensemble can flourish one by one, as a collection of unique people bouncing off one another, the show just might take off.”
St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “If 1600 Penn trusted itself enough to get away from expected sitcom gags, the show could be both smarter and funnier. Maybe that’s coming; the show runner is Mike Royce of Men of a Certain Age, and that’s certainly a hopeful sign. Or, viewers who prefer their comedy more boutique-size could try Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ Veep, which returns this spring on HBO and manages to be smart, sophisticated and silly all at once. For that matter, so did The West Wing.”
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “Whether that’s going to continue or is even enough to keep 1600 Penn interesting in the long-term remains to be seen but if producers continue to use Skip judiciously rather than building stories around him, 1600 Penn may be on the right track.”
SF Gate: “1600 Penn may not be as sophisticated as the hysterical HBO series Veep, but it’s still pretty funny when all the cylinders are firing. Although Veep is satiric and 1600 Penn goes for old-fashioned yuks, what they have in common is a realization that even in our overly media-managed times, our national leaders – and their kids – put their pants on one clay foot at a time.
Newsday: “With the holiday spirit firmly in hold, let’s start this off with a positive spin: NBC’s new sitcom about the White House is superior to the canceled sitcom about the Animal House (Animal Practice). What that says is there’s nothing particularly offensive about 1600 Penn — and there is no monkey (hallelujah). Beyond that, there’s nothing especially funny, or smart, or clever, either.”
Boston Herald: “The episode also introduces the bane of Emily’s existence, the passive-aggressive White House director of etiquette, Winslow (Rene Auberjonois, Boston Legal, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine). By that time, however, most viewers will have voted with their remotes.
What do you think? Will you watch 1600 Penn? If you’ve already seen it, will you watch it again?