March 24, 2015

SHOWBUZZDAILY Pilot + 1 Review: “One Big Happy”

ONE BIG HAPPY:  Tuesday 9:30PM on NBC

A lot can happen between the creation of a TV pilot and the production of regular episodes: writer/producers may be hired or fired, audience focus groups weigh in, networks and studios (which may have had their own turnover) give plenty of notes, helpful and otherwise, and critics start to rear their ugly heads. Tone, pace, casting, and even story can change. Here at SHOWBUZZDAILY, we look past the pilots and present reviews of the first regular season episodes as well.

Previously… on ONE BIG HAPPY:  Luke (Nick Zano) and lesbian best buddy Lizzy (Elisha Cuthbert) have followed through on their vow to try and have a baby together if neither is with anyone else by age 30.  But the timing is off:  Lizzy finds out she’s pregnant just as Luke meets–and instantly marries–British bombshell Prudence (Kelly Brook).  Now they’re sharing a house together.

Episode 2:  Here was your choice of big-time comedy in tonight’s episode, written by series creator Liz Feldman and directed by David Trainer:  there was the run of gags about the family heirloom china rooster that Prudence had in her boxes of belongings, which allowed the cast to use the word “cock” as often as Standards would allow, since it referred to a bird instead of a penis; or alternatively, there was the repeated sound-effect of first Luke and then Prudence walking across a room on bubble-wrap.

Those were the jokes, folks.

The characters on One Big Happy are so phenomenally stupid that they’re about one step ahead of riding the shortbus to the soundstage.  Episode 2 revolved around Lizzy’s resentment at having Prudence’s possessions (and Prudence herself, of course) invading her house, and then Prudence’s convincing Lizzy to get closure from an ex-girlfriend by returning her possessions.  Since Luke warned Lizzy that she’d never hold onto her resolve once in her ex’s presence, and Lizzy angrily denied that it was true, of course it was, but because the episode needed a positive ending, of course she finally gathered her gumption, with the help of Prudence pretending to be her new lover (two ladies kissed, oh my!).  The B story had Luke unwilling to confess to Prudence that he was creeped out by the marionettes she had hung in their bedroom.

There wasn’t anything particularly funny about this, nor anything that suggested the presence of human beings behind the punchlines.  It was all just a vehicle for mechanical, predictable jokes, most of them about the hilarity of being a lesbian (not once, but twice, we had Lizzy staring at Luke and Prudence making out and muttering “Straight people” in disgust) or a person from England (you bet there was a bangers and mash joke).  Cuthbert deserves much better, although it’s not clear the other stars do.

With The Voice airing in the hour before, One Big Happy rated well enough in its premiere not to be utterly DOA, but it’s hard to believe that the numbers will hold up.  For the sake of TV comedy in general, it needs to pack up its own threadbare belongings as quickly as possible and seek closure somewhere else.

ORIGINAL VERDICT:  Change the Channel

PILOT + 1:  Even By the Standards of Current NBC Comedy…


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."