With a fantastic cast, a popular book and movie as its basis, and critically-acclaimed EP Jason Katims, it’s hard to image that About a Boy would be less than stellar. But how does the pilot actually shake out? Let’s bitch it out…
I’ll admit now that it’s hard for me to be objective about a show written by Jason Katims. He’s produced two of my all-time favorite series, Friday Night Lights and Parenthood, and even Roswell had its moments. But even given this predisposition, I think it’s safe to say that this pilot is a success.
Already I’m rooting for these characters. The man-boy character isn’t exactly a novelty on TV these days, but Will is pretty easy to get behind. The writers seem to have figured out how to make a character that is skilled at evading responsibility without turning him into a jerk. And it helps that David Walton is as good of an actor as he is. He knows how to balance Will’s charm with his immaturity, and so Will feels like a person and not just fodder for sitcom jokes.
But even a great protagonist can’t make this series work if his counterpart, the titular Marcus, isn’t just as relatable. And while the actor playing Marcus, Benjamin Stockham, is a little green and stiff at times in the pilot, the character generally works. The writers again have found the right balance between naïve schoolboy who just wants to make his mother smile and calculating youngster who knows how to get what he wants out of Will. I hope that they don’t lose that latter side of Marcus, because it’s these moments, like when he whispers to Will “I own you!”, that really make Marcus stand out.
Of course, the pilot isn’t perfect. Fiona (Minnie Driver) needs to be straightened out, since she only seems to be able to function in extremes, either as Super Angry Vegan or Depressed Single Mom. And I’m worried about the world of the show – how are the writers going to come up with different conflicts each week when we only follow these three characters? It’s hard to judge where the writers plan to go with the show when the pilot is essentially the movie boiled down into a tight 20-minute summary.
But overall? An assured first of hopefully many (are you listening NBC? Many) outings with these two boys Will and Marcus.
- I do resent the writers a little bit for easing my burning hatred of One Direction’s “What Makes You Beautiful.” How am I supposed to snark this song when all I can see now is Marcus singing so earnestly and shaking his butt off the rhythm of the song?
- As someone who distinctly remembers watching Leslie Bibb play a high school student on Popular back in the day, it was a bit painful to see her now playing a mom to two middle-school aged kids.
Your turn! Is Marcus too sweet? Does the pilot adhere too closely to the movie? And do you still loathe “What Makes You Beautiful?” Sound off in the comments below!
About a Boy moves this week to its new regular timeslot, Tuesdays at 9 EST on NBC.