1600 Penn (NBC) - Series Premiere: Synopsis and Review

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NBC’s comedy ‘1600 Penn’ is about a family that consists of a father, stepmother and four children. However, the Gilchrist family isn’t an ordinary family, since father Dale (Bill Pullman, ‘Independence Day’) is the president of the United States. Step mom Emily (Jenna Elfman, ‘Dharma and Greg’) tries really hard to get the children to love her.

The first episode of ‘1600 Penn’ starts with Skip (Josh Gad, ‘Woke Up Dead’), the oldest son of the family, accidentally setting a frat house on fire. When he and his friends get into a fight with the students living in the house, men in black swoop in to get the son out of harms way. The rest of the episode focuses on Skip trying to make up for this but inadvertently making things worse. At the end of the day however, Skip manages to help his father make a trade agreement with South American countries.

Of course there are a few side stories in this episode which will probably play a bigger part in coming episodes. First of all, the eldest daughter Becca (Martha MacIsaac, ‘Superbad’) is pregnant, but as far as we know she doesn’t have a boyfriend. Second, the youngest son, Xander (Benjamin Stockham, ‘Sons of Tucson’) has a crush on a girl from school. However daughter Marigold, (Amara Miller, ‘The Descendants’) also has a crush on that girl, which means Marigold is gay. For this reason Marigold got in a fight with Xander at school. Another big issue is that Becca seems to be more of a mother to the younger children than Emily is, this is something that bothers Emily. All of these stories have the potential to become major parts of the show.

At the beginning of the episode I thought the acting was a little weak, somehow the characters didn’t seem like a family at all. It’s obvious that comedies feature characters that are over the top, however a character needs to have more dimensions than just one to make it a believable character. With Skip I found it really hard to believe he was a real person since he was one dimensional. Later on, the show got better and more entertaining to watch. However, the storyline of the president was not interesting at all. It only became moderately interesting when Skip started interfering, and even then it didn’t grasp my attention.

It felt as if there was to much happening in the episode, too much for a pilot of a comedy series. After all, there is some sort of mommy-feud between Emily and Becca, Becca is pregnant, the younger brother and sister have a crush on the same girl, creating friction between them and revealing that the youngest daughter is gay, and Skip and his father have the typical relationship where the dad is hard on his son but secretly very proud when he does something right; it’s all a little much. There is no need to show us every single direction the storyline can take in the coming episodes, and frankly: I wonder if there is still any mystery left at all in this series.

After seeing the trailer of ‘1600 Penn’ I expected the show to be a lot different than it turned out to be. I expected it to have more funny moments, maybe even moments that would make me laugh out loud. However, I never really laughed when I watched the show. There were some funny moments, but mostly they were too absurd to really make me laugh. All in all this is not a show I would recommend you to watch, it’s just not funny.

‘1600 Penn’ airs on NBC on Thursdays at 9:30/8:30c.

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Comments 5 comments

DeborahNeyens profile image

DeborahNeyens 3 years ago from Iowa

I thought the premise looked pretty good from the trailers I've seen, so I'm a little disappointed to hear it's not very good. But thanks for saving me the trouble of watching it. : )


Robin Oatley profile image

Robin Oatley 3 years ago Author

Hi Deborah,

I'd like to mention that this review is solely based on my opinion. Maybe you'll like the show but I too thought the premise looked pretty fun and I was definitely disappointed.

Thanks for reading and commenting!


cperuzzi profile image

cperuzzi 3 years ago from Freehold, NJ

Looks uber-lame. Pullman's last real good role looked like it was for Torchwood. Him reprising a US President role is good but the premise behind having a "Billy Carter" like son is not really stuff of real comedy.

Too many of these "My Dad is an important politician" shows go down in flames. The last one that even had a chance was "Benson" - and that was only because it was a spin off of "Soap".


angel4967 profile image

angel4967 3 years ago from Nevada

Thanks again Robin. Another one of those shows I was thinking about because I love Jenna Elfman. I just don't have time to waste on things that don't live up to the hype. You've saved me again from losing time I'd never get back :)


Robin Oatley profile image

Robin Oatley 3 years ago Author

@cperuzzi. I agree, the premise of having a son like Skip isn't good comedy at all. This doesn't necessarily make the show bad, but it plays a big part in it. Certainly considering that Skip is, and probably will also be in the future, the focus of the show. Maybe the show would be slightly better if they put their focus on something or someone else.

@angel. Thank you, for reading and for commenting. I'm glad to know I'm not just writing this for my own entertainment but people actually take my advice sometimes :).

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