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About a Boy - Episode 1.01 - Pilot - Review

When I first heard about a television adaptation of About a Boy last year, I was a little nervous. I had seen the movie, though I hadn’t read the book, and I quite enjoyed the different type of story, and obviously the natural charm of Hugh Grant, and the adorableness of a young man with incredible eyebrows, Nicholas Hoult. Then I heard that Jason Katims was adapting the show, and the cast would include David Walton and Minnie Driver, and I quickly did an about-face. If anyone could handle an adaptation from film to television, it would be Jason Katims who has already managed two such programs, Friday Night Lights and Parenthood, and done it quite well. David Walton is always charming, although often cancelled, and Minnie Driver is a versitle and highly entertaining actress. Add to that the young and talented Benjamin Stockham, and the cast is complete.

I’ll admit candidly that I want this show to work. I think the cast is great, Jason Katims runs great shows, and NBC really needs to get its comedy game back. This disclaimer is just to let you know my pure subjectivity when it comes to this review (although subjectivity is inherent in every review, just by its nature), and why I might be more optimistic even when the elements may not be as smooth as they should be.

The overall plot for the pilot mostly covers the general plot from the movie version; Will (David Walton) pretends that his new young neighbor, Marcus (Benjamin Stockham), is his son, in order to woo a pretty cellist (Leslie Bibb). Marcus’ mom, Fiona (Minnie Driver), constantly finds herself at odds with her debaucherous neighbor, especially after she finds out he was using her son. After the lie is exposed, Will comes through for Marcus at his school talent show, providing some much needed accompaniment for his solo rendition of “That’s What Makes You Beautiful.” It basically a quick run down of the film in 21 minutes, setting up the semi-contentious relationship between Fiona and Will, and the much closer one of Will and Marcus.

There are some elements that work well about this pilot; the chemistry between David Walton and Benjamin Stockham, and the subsequent relationship between Will and Marcus, being one of the strongest. Walton nails the charming-character-you-should-hate-but-don’t, similarly to Hugh Grant in, well, everything. It’s amazing that everything he does gets cancelled, as he has a very charismatic screen presence, and can play dumb, shallow, or callous without ever making the character unlikable. Hopefully About a Boy will dethrone him as the King of Cancellation, and help him to become the TV star that he can be.

Some of the moments felt a little broad, and overall the show felt similar in tone to NBC’s recent broader family comedies. Although that might not be a great sign (especially since the audience hasn’t particularly taken to NBC’s new attempt at comedy), I have faith in Jason Katims to make the show distinct from that generic form, and breath some more interesting life into it.

Building off of this fun premise, with great characters and actors and a highly-competent showrunner at the helm, About a Boy definitely has the ability to blossom into a great show. It might be there 100% yet, but rarely does a pilot have all of the elements of what a show later becomes. As long as they can stay away from the new NBC brand and work to give the show its own unique tone, this could be a fun new comedy with heart and laughs - one can only hope.

What did you think about the pilot? Will you keep watching, or would you rather just rewatch the movie? Let us know what you thought of About a Boy below!

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