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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

PILOT REVIEW: Suburgatory


Starring: Jeremy Sisto, Jane Levy, Carly Chaikin, Allie Grant, with Alan Tudyk, and Cheryl Hines
Created by Emily Kapnek
Written by Emily Kapnek, Directed by Michael Fresco

Suburgatory is a new sitcom on ABC that is the perfect bridge between two single camera comedy hits. Set in the suburbs outside New York City, the show has a Mean Girls feel as it is about teen Tessa Altman (Jane Levy) and her father George (Jeremy Sisto) who move to the suburbs when her Dad freaks out about finding condoms in her drawer. She sees that the suburbs are a superficial world that she doesn't think she'll ever fit into. Also in the cast is suburb teen queen Dalia (Carly Chaikin) and her equally superficial mother (Cheryl Hines). There's also a potential friend for Tessa in Lisa (Allie Grant) and her Dad's old friend Noah (Alan Tudyk).

THE GOOD: There's a lot to like about this quirky comedy that already has a clear voice and style after one episode. The look of the show is very distinct, from the walk through the suburbs to the several sight gags, it's very well produced for a sitcom. The cast is also top notch. Jane Levy is a standout as the protagonist - she seems natural without playing too much to the type of character she is. Jeremy Sisto is also strong as her father and the two have a good on-screen chemistry. Cheryl Hines is a hoot as "plastic" mom Dallas. While her character is fake in many ways, her acting does not seem fake and that's hard to do in a role that's such a caricature. There were many funny sight gags (the girl walking into a pool while texting, passive aggressive books at breakfast) and lines (Dalia introducing the lone African American kid as the "diversity student.") It was a great pilot that sets up the show well.

THE BAD: I can't think of much I didn't like about this. I've always said that it's tricky for sitcoms to find their rhythm in the first episode but this show already has. The only thing the show needs to watch out for is being a one trick pony and I have a feeling it will be able to avoid that. It seems like the characters are well drawn and there's a lot of places this show to go. So you can see, I don't really have anything bad to say.

BOTTOM LINE: This could be the show that ABC has been looking for to fit in-between The Middle and Modern Family. Its tone and style makes the perfect bridge and it's a much better fit than last year's Better With You. With strong acting and a strong plot, this could be the best in a season of comedies with a lot of potential (Up All Night, 2 Broke Girls, New Girl). I can't wait to come back for more.

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