On '1600 Penn,' the First Family is just like us
December 18th, 2012
11:38 AM ET

On '1600 Penn,' the First Family is just like us

It's one thing when your daughter can't come up with the courage to tell you that she's pregnant. It's another when you're the leader of the free world.

Such is the typical sort of plotline on "1600 Penn," NBC's new White House-based comedy, which premiered Monday night (before settling into a cushy post-"Office" Thursday slot in the new year).

Bill Pullman is back in a familiar role as the president of the United States. President Gilchrist's family includes his second wife and First Lady, Emily Nash Gilchrist (Jenna Elfman, pretty much great in anything), and three of his kids: Becca, Marigold and Xander.

But it's his college-age son, Skip, who unsurprisingly takes up much of the focus of the first episode. Skip is played by "Book of Mormon's" Josh Gad, who co-created the series with former White House speechwriter Jon Lovett.

Skip has been expelled from school and is back living in the White House. At one point, the president's press secretary has to explain that Skip has apologized for the fire. Both fires.

On paper, it's an interesting idea that this family's every foible has to be explained away to the press, or that international incidents could take place because of Skip's meddling. (And they do in this episode, as Skip accidentally ruins the president's plan to lose a tennis match to gain the upper hand in trade negotiations... and then he gets some Latin American leaders to see things the president's way while sharing drinks.)

One can very easily see how Skip could become the only character on this show with any significant airtime. And in reality, we're not dealing with anything new here. "Black Sheep," "That's My Bush!" and the current syndicated "The First Family" have covered this ground.

I'd be interested to see how Becca's pregnancy and the late revelation that Marigold is a lesbian might end up paying off, but I wonder if all of that will be lost in Skip's shenanigans.

Don't get me wrong, Gad is a major comic talent (and Pullman's understated straight man approach in his scenes with him are also pretty good), but a little could go a long way.

I'll check out the next few episodes, but I already see trouble signs ahead for this series.

What did you think of the premiere? Share your thoughts on video or comment below.

soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. Justin

    This is the worst new show of the season. Please let NBC know this show should be canceled before it's second episode. I had to change channels after just 8 minutes. This show is crap.

    January 10, 2013 at 9:55 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Mr.R

    The oldest son is the most annoying character on TV ever. He needs to be scaled back/killed off in the next episode. Otherwise, I expect this show to be canceled by the 6th episode,

    January 4, 2013 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
  3. dreamhawk

    Wow! I TRIED to like this ... I love some of thes actors but oh what a bomb. The son alone is reason to never try this series. The most annoying script and stupid is too widespread already . Try again you guys . Horrific

    January 2, 2013 at 10:26 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Bex

    You know a show has potential when it's called NBCs answer to Modern Family, another extremely overrated show.

    January 1, 2013 at 11:51 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Samantha

    This show is horrible. Not funny and terrible acting. The fact that it makes the first family look like a bunch of idiots certainly doesn't do anything to help how people in other countries view Americans.

    December 29, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Ann

    I haven't laughed this hard in I don't know how long. This show has great possibilities.

    December 27, 2012 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Marilyn

    At least it's not reality show, I will give this show a chance.

    December 25, 2012 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Merry Christmas To All

    and try to make it a good day!

    December 25, 2012 at 9:45 am | Report abuse |
  9. Cindy

    Skip is the single most annoying character on TV right now. By the end of the show his voice was grating on my nerves so badly I couldn't wait to push "delete" on my DVR. And that's saying A LOT considering that's there's a lot of terrible TV out there. I found Pullman's character to be dry. Ugh...either give us more Elfman and humor, have Skip get killed off in a fire that he set, or step up the writing so that the show is funny - otherwise just cancel it now. Please.

    December 25, 2012 at 9:38 am | Report abuse |
    • dreamhawk

      Oh man, I agree ...best of luck to the young actor but horrible character on this show . I never wish bad for actor ... How does this stuff get money to become a show . They could call me ... I will do better !

      January 2, 2013 at 10:30 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Tim

    I thought it was a decent preview, but it has a lot of work before I’ll watch it on a regular basis next year. It was a good idea for NBC to give us this preview during this slow time of the TV schedule. My coworkers at DISH told me that it aired earlier week and said I should check it out. I saw it last night since it was recorded through the PrimeTime Anytime feature on my DISH Hopper. My DVR automatically records three hours of the four major networks during primetime, which helps me see programs if I forget to set timers for them on those channels.

    December 19, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
  11. john

    next episode kill first son

    December 19, 2012 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
  12. be quiet

    just cancel this garbage now and save money. you know it's headed toward cancellation anyway. josh gad couldn't be more annoying.

    December 18, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  13. robert pringle

    I thought the first episode was horrible–too much of Josh gad, who apparently can't act–we need more dharma. Elfman is very talented, and can be funny, ditzy, etc. I did like the end where even the first family is just like anyone else.
    When gad came on the screen, I muted my TV –too loud, unfunny, and in great need of acting lessons.

    December 18, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Annetta M. Keranko

    I loved the first episode but thought it was a little disjointed in some parts – would like to see more of Jenna Elfman – I like many others enjoyed her in "Accidently on Purpose" and would like to see her character develop a little more. The ending was sweet. I think they needed to cover too many aspects of the series in one show. I look forward to the next episodes.

    December 18, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |

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