The Hudsonian Sees 1600 PENN


Presidential Shenanigans at 1600 PENN

by Josh Hudson

NBC Thursdays has a new address: 1600 Penn.

The new comedy from Josh Gad, Jon Lovett, and Jason Winer is a cross between New Girl, Modern Family, and the Obamas. You know, if they were white and had a reality show or something.

Josh Gad stars as Skip, the eldest son to President Dale Gilcrhist, played by Bill Pullman. Skip is a quack. He’s clumsy, not all there, and is in his seventh year of college. Very Van Wilder-esque, yes, but Skip doesn’t resemble any of those suave characteristics outside of tenure post-high school.

Jenna Elfman stars as Emily Nash-Gilchrist, the first lady. She’s very chic, well mannered, and could easily be on one of those World War II posters campaigning for woman’s rights. She’s also the “evil” stepmother to the four children. Yes, Mr. President was a busy bunny pre trophy wife.

Becca, Marigold, and Xander are the other children. Becca is in her late teens. The good one of the bunch. Diligent, hard working, and always on her toes; some might call her a suck up or a brownnoser. That reputation goes down the crapper when she finds out she’s pregnant. Guess she’s a real kid after all.

Marigold and Xander are the youngest. Marigold is hitting puberty, while Zander is a few years younger. They don’t actually say in the show, but it’s a reasonable guess. Later, we find out they have a crush on the same person. Have fun with that one.

Much of the episode centers on Skip’s attempts at getting daddy’s attention. But he’s too busy with trying to close a national trade with some Latin American countries. Skip inadvertently intervenes, and for it to be comedic, he would have to blow things up rather awesomely. Or get drunk on tequila. That’s not stereotypical or anything.

Emily works on trying to connect with her stepchildren, first with Becca, and then with Marigold and Zander. Like most stepparents with their stepchildren, it doesn’t always go as planned.

I have to say; I was pleasantly surprised by this show. I didn’t really know what to expect, honestly. Pullman has been president before (Independence Day with Will Smith) but wasn’t really comedic. Elfman is a hilarious woman, but her shows don’t always hit, unfortunately. Gad is someone I’d never heard of until recently, and yet, he somehow got his own show on a national network. Clearly, we’re all doing something wrong, and he’s doing something right. The writing is quirky enough to entertain; childish enough to be delightful, and still sophisticated enough for the parental units to enjoy and have something to talk with their kids about.

Putting it on Thursdays is a bold statement by NBC. I’ll be watching. And hopefully others will follow.

You Don’t Need to be Rich to Develop Your Own Series

Robert Glenn Plotner, one of LB’s students, has been working like a sonufabitch on his own lilve-action self-created TV/web series, LET’S GET SPUNKY!

How’s it going? Hey, glad you asked. Here’s what RGP has to say:

 “Let’s Get Spunky!” is a twisted spoof of classic television that combines both a reverence for the early TV years and a love of smartly demented humor.

The germ for Spunky came from “Unquote,” a literary piece I wrote for my then webzine “Seriously Disturbed Humor.” One of the made-up quotes attributed to various celebrities, politicians, and historical figures in “Unquote” was a line from a purportedly lost “Leave It To Beaver” episode, “The Beav’ and the Bikers” in which a psychotic Eddie Haskell threatens to teach Theodore the real meaning of the word ‘Beaver.’

The key insight was that it would be hilarious to play with the modern (sometimes political) nostalgia for an imagined America that never really existed within the context of a classic TV series, especially one in which the very meanings of words changed in relation to the present.

I wrote down the seed thought, put it in my idea file, and only took it out after years of frustration and near misses. I had determined to find the one project that excited me the most, a show I would love if I discovered it on television, and self-produce it as a test pilot.

That’s the brief history of how the little orphan pilot with a whole of Spunk set out to conquer the world and find himself a home — preferably on a cable network with a bold taste for original comedy. Hopefully there’s more of that plot to be written so that Spunky doesn’t end up sniveling under an overpass and getting befriended by “Breaking Bad.”

The sizzle reel is above, and here’s the full pilot, which all of us at TVWriter™ – especially munchman – truly enjoyed:

Robert says he’s eager to know your responses. He may even mean it. So fire – gently – when ready via Comments below.