October 15, 2014

SHOWBUZZDAILY Season Premiere Review: “About a Boy”


ABOUT A BOY:  Tuesday 9:30PM on NBC

This much is clear:  doula is the current sitcom profession of choice.  Just days after the second episode of Mulaney revolved around the hero’s discomfort with his girlfriend being one, ABOUT A BOY has returned with the news that Fiona (Minnie Driver), the show’s clueless mother, has discovered it as her new calling.  That naturally meant a comical reenactment by Fiona and son Marcus (Benjamin Stockham) of the latter’s birth, complete with a ceremonial cutting of the umbilical cord.  (It’s probably not a complete coincidence that both series are created by men.)

About a Boy is the work of Jason Katims (following Nick Hornby’s novel and the Paul & Chris Weitz movie), and it would be satisfying to be able to report that as Katims’ Parenthood approaches its last few episodes, Boy is poised to provide the same level of skillful entertainment.  Katims’ touch, however, is far less certain in the sitcom realm.  Tonight’s season premiere, written by Katims and directed by Adam Davison, wasn’t even the show at its best, although it did an adequate job of setting things up for Season 2.

Last spring’s finale had sent Boy‘s amiable but mostly irresponsible hero Will (David Walton) moving from San Francisco to New York in order to be with his doctor girlfriend Samantha (Adrianne Palicki).  Since the rest of the cast remained on the other end of the country, though, the show had to contrive a reason for him to quickly move back, which was a combination of money problems (someone as-yet unidentified is claiming co-authorship of the Christmas song on whose royalties Will lives) and Will’s devotion to Marcus.  Although the episode held out the idea that Will could solve his financial issues if he sold his San Francisco house for good, that was clearly never going to happen, and since Palicki remains a guest star rather than a regular, Samantha’s days are numbered.  The B story established that the consequence of Will’s best friend Andy (Al Madrigal) listening to Will’s advice and not getting a vasectomy was that Andy’s unsuspecting wife Laurie (Annie Mumolo, now a regular) is now pregnant, much to her shock.

About a Boy‘s heart is in the right place:  the premiere had Will rescuing Marcus from the bullies who’d taken over the elaborate treehouse Will had built for him.  The show’s dynamic is on endless repeat, though, as Will constantly realizes he has to man up and do the right thing, while Marcus is forever the helpless dork, and Fiona loving but self-righteous and out of touch with her son’s reality.  As a sitcom writer, Katims is prone to broad gags that often don’t pay off, and which are antithetical to the little character moments that have made his Parenthood and Friday Night Lights so memorable.

Boy seemed to be moving toward a more nuanced comedy toward the end of its first season, and perhaps Season 2 will return to that once it’s finished setting things up, although the combination of Fiona’s doula-hood and Laurie’s pregnancy–the episode’s close had Andy and Laurie already hiring Fiona–makes one fear the worst.  It seems likely, like last season, to be no more than pleasant, well-performed by its talented cast but neither hilarious nor insightful.  Its ratings were nondescript last season as well, although it benefits from having The Voice in the preceding hour.  (This season, some of its fate will depend on new lead-in Marry Me.)  It’s a likable but unmemorable comedy, more often than not about a meh.


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."