Premise: Ryan King (Matthew Perry) joins a support group at his boss’s request in order to cope with the loss of his wife. He is initially reluctant but later becomes a more willing participant.
Initial Thoughts: After seeing the trailer and previews, I was a little on the fence about the show. Parts looked like they could be funny, but as a whole, it was a little underwhelming. It was interesting enough to make me curious to see the pilot, but not enough to make me certain I’d want to watch the series.
Series Premiere: 8/8/12 (sneak preview); 9/11/12 (timeslot premiere)
Timeslot Competition: Happy Endings (ABC), NCIS: Los Angeles (CBS), New Girl (FOX), Emily Owens, M.D. (CW)
Post-show Thoughts: I was very pleasantly surprised by this show! The moments that weren’t particularly funny in the previews still weren’t very funny in the actual episode, but it is a show that has a lot of potential to grow. The premise of a show is a little darker than a typical sitcom, as each member of the support group is coping with a loss of some sort, but it doesn’t stop the show from being funny. The “March Sadness” scene worked extremely well for me and I enjoyed the fact that it felt real, despite being somewhat absurd in theory. It was human, we do compare situations, whether or not it is healthy for us to do so. The final scene, with the group chasing after the Google Maps van in armor stolen from other people at the community center, was what ultimately sold me on the show. The idea to chase the van was heartwarming, while the reaction shot of the irritated center members brought the humor.
My largest complaint about the pilot is the fact that I was really uninvested in Ryan’s job as a sportscaster. Perhaps this is because I’m not a big sports fan, but I couldn’t bring myself to be interested in his job. I am also hoping that the players he interviews won’t always be the catalyst for revelation in Ryan’s life. I am far more interested in the dynamics of the support group and I hope they become the focus in later episodes.
Predictions: I think the overall quality of the show has the potential to stay strong, especially if they manage to find that blend of heartwarming and humorous that NBC comedies like Community and Parks and Recreation excel at. The sneak preview ratings were strong, which is promising. However, it is up against some decent competition. New Girl was a very strong show for FOX last season, and I don’t see that changing. Happy Endings, while lacking New Girl‘s ratings, has a loyal fanbase that I don’t think will be inclined to switch. NCIS: Los Angeles is also very strong in the ratings, but I am unsure about how much overlap there would be in viewers. The comedies are definitely the stronger ratings threat.
Despite the competition, I think the show will be one of the better-performing new comedies for NBC, and therefore has potential for either a back-9 pickup (unlikely, given the shortened seasons for most NBC shows and the fairly busy midseason lineup) or a second season.