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Welcome once again to our annual "first look" at the broadcast networks' offerings for the 2010-2011 season. Each day we'll walk you through one of the new series set to premiere next season (or one that didn't make the cut) and go over our initial impressions after viewing the pilot. Keep in mind that a lot can change from what's being screened right now - recasting, reshooting, etc. - but we still want to give you a heads up on what you should (and shouldn't) keep on your radar in the coming months. So enough of our rambling, on with the show!
[IMPORTANT NOTE: The following is based on the original sales presentation which was screened to us privately or supplied by a third party NOT an informational, not-for-review screener provided by the network in question.]
MOST LIKELY TO SUCCEED (FOX)
(written by David Walpert; directed by Michael Patrick Jann; TRT: 24:35)
The network's description: No official description has been released...
What did they leave out? ...so everything. Plus Kaitlin Doubleday was originally cast in the Becca role before being replaced by Caitlin Fitzgerald.
The plot in a nutshell: "In high school we were the kings and queens of our universe," explains Griff Brooks (Tim Peper). "We knew who we were, we knew what we wanted and most of all, we knew wherever the future took us success would naturally follow. The one thing that we didn't know was that the real world doesn't give a rat's ass about the expectations of a bunch of teenagers. Nope, not even a little." And with that we meet the aforementioned kings and queens, now a decade removed from those wondrous times: April Swindell (Kathryn Hahn), the "best personality," is overwhelmed by her duties as a mother of three with a useless husband; Ty Davis (Malcolm Barrett), the "coolest," is a layabout slacker/product tester; Becca Swindell (Caitlin Fitzgerald), the "most popular," is newly divorced and has just chipped her tooth; and our narrator, Griff, the "most likely to succeed," was recently fired and now spends his days faking going to work for the benefit of his fiance (Bitsie Tulloch).
Griff nevertheless tells best friend Ty his plan to reclaim his life: "accidentally" run into his old boss at the opera and sweet talk him into giving him his job back. Becca likewise has found the road back to recovery, which she recounts to pal April: a date with Doug (Geoff Stults), a successful cardiac surgeon (and Channel 4's Most Eligible Bachelor!). Before either plots can take root, Griff and Becca run into each other on the street, and the former lovebirds, voted "the best couple" in high school, do their best to downplay their current situations. This of course doesn't work and they're quickly rehashing old wounds.
Even worse, it turns out - wait for it - they actually living in the same building! Annoyed each still presses on with their respective plans, which again, not surprisingly don't work out as Becca catches her date pre-emptively taking Viagra, while Griff strikes out at the opera as his boss actually picked up on the various instances in which Griff called him a "douche" under his breathe. Meanwhile, April reaches her breaking point with her husband avoiding his duties while Ty gets an education in how much he's lost his charm. Ultimately, Becca and Griff return home and see each other at their worst, and they - along with Ty and April - decide it's nothing that a night out at a Chinese restaurant and a few drinks with old friends can't cure.
What works: Yeah...
What doesn't: ...that was not good. A painfully broad comedy, "Succeed" throws subtly out the window in favor of inflated, cliched antics. There isn't a puddle poor Becca doesn't step into or a bus that doesn't splash her as she spends the opening act a complete mess, literally missing a piece of her front tooth. Meanwhile, Ty likewise is introduced with the word "dumbass" written across his forehead, the result of falling asleep at a party; April cries at the drop of literally anything; and Griff seems to think he can get his job back despite announcing he quit by peeing into the company fish tank.
And in case you didn't pick up that our one-dimensional heroes are 180 degrees from their high school days, title cards in which their "most/best/etc." yearbook page is crossed out and corrected with their current status continuously restate the obvious. But wait, there's more: "Succeed" embraces the only-on-TV trope that Becca and Griff "just happen" to live in the same building while her disaster date with Doug (he took the Viagra for his second date that evening but after accidentally hitting a deer driving her home leaves them stranded - don't ask - he now has to relieve the pressure manually) doesn't remotely seem to take place in reality. So if things like April inadvertently dunking her baby into the toilet strikes you as highbrow comedy, you'll be right at home here.
The bottom line: But if you prefer you comedy without a sledgehammer, it's best to look elsewhere.