'1600 Penn' review: Will you be voting for NBC's new comedy?

1600-penn-premiere-bill-pullman-jenna-elfman-nbc.jpg
Using the model that worked so well for "Go On" this summer, NBC has offered its viewers a holiday sneak peek of its new comedy, "1600 Penn." But did the political sitcom rise to presidential levels? Or did it fall to the ground like a flaming chair in the middle of a press conference.

Hey, if nothing else, this show has delivered on some excellent similes.

The basics: President Dale Gilchrest ( Bill Pullman) can lead a country but has trouble leading his family (possibly because he mostly ignores them). This means his new wife Emily ( Jenna Elfman) can't get the kids to talk to her. Eldest son, Skip ( Josh Gad, Secret Service codename, "Meatball"), is a goofy failure who frequently sets things on fire. Daughter Becca ( Martha MacIsaac) is the perfect overachiever. So of course she's pregnant. There are two other kids, Marigold ( Amara Miller) and Xander ( Benjamin Stockham). Marigold is an adolescent lesbian, and Xander seems to be a Che Guevara-style revolutionary.

There is also a Chief of Staff rather amusingly named Marshall Mathers ( Andre Holland).

Wacky hijinks ensue.

Do these hijinks work as a comedy? On first viewing, the best answer might be "almost." There is some good acting, and most of the actors are surprisingly perfect in their roles. I can believe Elfman as a First Lady. And we've all seen Pullman save the world as the President in "Independence Day." Add into this some interesting (if still two-dimensional) family antics, and there could be a spark of brilliance in "1600 Penn."

Maybe. If the show wants to really work, it might want to think about bringing Gad -- who really is quite funny -- into the same universe as everyone else on "1600 Penn." As it is, Skip's goofball antics are almost distracting. There is also a slightly cold and distant feel to the story. For a family comedy (even a Presidential one) to succeed, we need to see a little more heart, not just flashy comic timing.

Much like Skip himself, "1600 Penn" has a spark of brilliance. The difficulty will be in keeping the whole thing from going down in flames.


So what did you think? Is "1600 Penn" a winner or an also-ran among new winter shows? Will you be watching? Share what you think here!

Photo/Video credit: NBC
SHARE IT ON: