Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Underthinking Pilot Season: A to Z

Hi guys,

Cat here. I remember A to Z being a very highly anticipated show. Now it's apparently not doing so well. Or so I hear. I could be wrong about that. There's only so much television criticism a person can read. But I do love romantic comedies and Ben Feldman has a giant bucket of goodwill from Drop Dead Diva so let's get started.

"Let me tell you the story of a couple. One of the greats."
I do NOT get the obsession with voice overs this pilot season. However "let" is a nice choice of phrasing. It sort of asks for permission while being firm enough to be begging. 

I am a sucker for singing. And Celine Dion. Do not judge me. 

I feel like the idea that his mother died when he was young and so he held his parents up as a perfect couple doesn't make much sense. I forget the proper logic terms but I don't think one really follows from the other. Overall, I think the script feels oddly sparse. They're taking way too much time with their words for a half hour show and the words they are speaking are not that compelling.

I'm sorry. I hear Katie Sagal's disembodied voice and I think of Pat from Smart House. This is creating the feeling that the characters are little dolls and a god or some genius computer is controlling them... which doesn't really help with the whole connecting to the characters as real people thing. 

There were some complaints about the guy's guy/girl's girl thing but it doesn't bother me that much. 

Also, is the plan really to only make 26 episodes of this?

The boss character seems miscast. I hope she's not heavily featured in upcoming episodes. She doesn't have real fire. She's just periodically shouting.

I have a problem with the way this show is shot. I can't explain it but I feel like it's holding the show back in a monumental way. 

The two lead characters are not really sparkling. I feel like you get glimpses of it when they laugh or smile which is a bit of an acting cheat. For the most part even the most wooden and deadpan actors can bring life and emotion to their faces by smiling.

Cristin Millioti is also slightly miscast as the female rom com character with her defenses up. She's just too charming and adorable. The woman is constantly laughing. For God's sake she's cooing over a puppy.

And... the internet stalking commences.

I don't know if Ben Feldman's energy was a little low through most of this or they were just shooting him from bad angles. It might have been a little of both. 

Trope Count
1. A female character who craves control and has her defenses up
2. Idealistic character leaps to conclusions about destiny and/or love and scares off cynical character.
3. Climactic bad date in a public setting. They draw attention to themselves. 
4. Stereotypical male best friend for Andrew
5. Stereotypical female best friend for Zelda
6. Stereotypical best friends hook up.
7. Stereotypical programmer characters
8. Shenanigans are revealed just as one character is apologizing to another
9. B plot relevation about a fake identity
10. A drink is thrown in someone's face
11. Guest star/childhood icon/mentor callback
12. Best friend's indignation leads Zelda to stumble onto her own feelings about Andrew
13. Silver dress reveal
14. Kiss by the fountain

Final Conclusion: I think the show is a little off tonally and the script was pretty weak but by the end I was completely charmed by Cristin Millioti so I'll hang in there for a bit. Hopefully it'll start to feel like they're playing with rom com tropes instead of just recycling them in the coming episodes.