1600 Penn Season 1, Episode 1 "Putting Out Fires"
NBC premiered its new comedy ‘1600 Penn’ this evening. The series stars Bill Pullman as President Dale Gilchrist, Jenna Elfman as his wife Emily Nash Gilchrist and Josh Gad as their son, Skip Gilchrist. Gad is actually the reason I am checking this series out, as his turn on Broadway as Elder Cunningham in “The Book of Mormon” was fantastic and I am a fan of his work. Pullman has some experience playing the commander-in-chief as well, as he helped save the world in “Independence Day” nearly two decades ago. And Elfman rose to fame as Dharma in ‘Dharma and Greg.’ So, how is their new series?
Gad is playing Elder Cunningham again, it seems. We are introduced to his character “leading” his troops outside of a frat house, which leads to the house catching on fire. Not really actions becoming of the son of a president, you know? I also caught that Gad was one of the co-creators of the series.
In the briefing room, a presidential spokesperson discusses Skip’s actions and we quickly cut to Emily answering questions to elementary school students about what it means to be a trophy wife. The first couple’s daughter Becca (played by Superbad’s Martha MacIsaac) is in the bathroom, taking a pregnancy test. We learn that Becca is Emily’s stepdaughter and we learn that things are a little tense between the two.
The Gilchrist kids discuss Becca’s pregnancy in the Oval Office, with Skip sitting at his father’s desk. Skip has apparently been going to college for quite a long time and daddy wants Skip to move back home. The two other Gilchrist kids show up and it seems like the entire family are oddballs. I hope that someone emerges as an anchor, because a series with all zany characters will get old quick.
If the series has a breakout star, it seems like it is going to be Skip. He seems totally out there and almost like a role that Chris Farley would have played. Skip accidentally sets the White House lawn on fire, causing his father embarrassment. That too seems like it will be a recurring theme. For the second time in 10 minutes, we see the press spokesperson answering for the First Son.
Dale’s first wife apparently passed away and it seems hard on the family still, even though it must have been some time ago. A foreign leader (I did not catch the country he was from – maybe it was Brazil?) talks trash against Dale, saying a lot of negative things against America (a lot of it under his breath). Skip tries to motivate his father to victory by leading them in chants during a tennis match. Of course, this leads to Dale pegging the Brazilian president with a tennis ball and putting him on his hindquarters. Of course, Dale was supposed to blow the game to get a trade deal moving forward and Skip takes the blame.
Emily talks to Becca and all Becca hears is baby terms, as she is under a ton of stress at the prospect of telling her father. Wow, Jenna Elfman is really tall. She looked a foot bigger than MacIsaac!
Is Skip going to develop a crush on his stepmom? It certainly seems possible. They share a snack moment and she gives him a kiss on the forehead. Uh oh. Skip ends up bonding with a bunch of foreign leaders over drinks, as they are thrilled with him for insulting a different leader they dislike. Skip’s work has landed the trade deal for America. U-S-A! U-S-A! Dale is proud of his son…for a few moments.
Becca tries to tell her dad the news, but finds it difficult. She earlier confided in Emily, so maybe the two ladies will come to some common ground. We also learn over pizza that the president’s youngest daughter has some lesbian tendencies. Nothing wrong with that.
This episode was a bit of a letdown. I know it can be difficult getting a new series off the ground and I will give it a few more chances to hook me. I am not sure this show is going to have a long life, though.
Please note: reviews of the show by critics who have seen more episodes say that it picks up steam rapidly. Did you see it? What did you think?