tek's rating:

1600 Penn, NBC
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The title is obviously short for "1600 Pennsylvania Avenue," which is of course the address of the White House. (Which kinda puts me in mind of the title 30 Rock.) Anyway, it's about fictitious U.S. President Dale Gilchrist (played by Bill Pullman) and his family. The series begins with Dale's oldest son, Standrich "Skip" Gilchrist, moving back home after causing an accidental fire at college (where he'd been for about seven years without graduating). Skip is basically... a well-meaning but blundering goofus man-child. (He's played by Josh Gad, who is also one of the show's creators and executive producers.) Meanwhile, Dale's oldest daughter, Becca (who we like), is a somewhat uptight overachiever, who is feeling terrible stress because she's just found out she's pregnant. (Incidentally, I'd guess Skip and Becca are both in their mid-20s, I'm not sure which is older.) Dale also has two younger children, Marigold (who's 13) and Xander (who I'd guess is around 10). Also, Dale has a relatively new wife named Emily (played by Jenna Elfman, who we like). I don't recall if we ever learned whether Dale is divorced or widowed. Anyway, Emily wants to be accepted by her stepkids, though she has some trouble, especially with Becca. And there's also a White House Press Secretary named Marshall Malloy, who has some trouble dealing with all the chaos created by the President's family... especially Skip. Also there's a guy named D.B., with whom Becca had a one-night stand, who is apparently responsible for her pregnancy. They start getting closer because of the situation, but while D.B. is a really sweet (and good-looking) guy, he's also pretty dumb. So Becca isn't sure she wants to be with him. Incidentally, she also had secretly dated Marshall for like a year, having ended the relationship not long before her one night with D.B. And Marshall is much more compatible with her than D.B. is.

Anyway, the show's mostly about Skip being his ridiculous self, whether he's interacting with his family, trying to win the love of a mailroom worker named Stacey Kim (who we like), or getting involved in political issues he doesn't really understand. The show's kind of quirky, but mostly it has the kind of syrupy, "heartwarming" stories normally reserved for 1980s sitcoms. I think a lot of critics didn't like it (and it obviously didn't get good ratings, being cancelled after just one 13-episode season). But personally I think they just didn't really get it. I mean, it wasn't a great show, but I found it amusing. And I think a lot of the "formulaic" aspects of the show were done rather tongue-in-cheek... Skip is just too damned sincere a character to exist unironically in a 21st century show. And that's a big part of what's so funny about him: the fact that he is so sincere and unironic, but the actor and writers (and ideally, the viewers) can't help but be aware of the irony of the character. The rest of the characters are more genuinely sitcom-y and clichéd, but still the actors do a decent job of playing them. Marshall in particular was good, I thought... he's kind of the straight man to all the insanity going on around him, but he was still funny and likable. And there was probably potential for all the characters to be better developed, if the show had lasted longer... especially Marigold, for a reason I won't get into. So, I do wish the show might have gotten at least one more season, but... I guess it's not a great loss. More than two seasons probably would have been too much, and I don't think I would have wanted either one to be more that 13 episodes, anyway. Shame we'll never get to see what happens after the plot twist in the series finale, though....


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