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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.]
THE PINK HOUSE (NBC)
(written by Kenny Schwartz & Rick Weiner; directed by Michael Lembeck; TRT: 23:31)
The network's description: No official description has been released...
What did they leave out? ...so everything. And let me preface this by saying I'm seriously not making any of this up.
The plot in a nutshell: Fitz (Michael Cassidy), fresh from grad school, is having second thoughts about following his best friend Bernie (Zach Cregger) from Minneapolis to Los Angeles. After all, everything that's important to him is back there: his girlfriend, his parents and his job at the family's meat packing plant. Bernie however is convinced Fitz doesn't need to rush into adulthood just yet. "Did the Little Mermaid get her legs and go right into a soccer game?" he notes. "No, she walked around a little bit, she had a hot dog." And so Fitz begrudgingly agrees to share the beachfront house they've stumbled upon. There they quickly befriend their neighbors: fellow Midwestern transplant/nice gal Emily (Katharine McPhee) and the unabashedly-hoping-to-marry-rich Jamie (Ashley Madekwe).
Now the guys just have to figure out how to make rent for their leathery smokestack of a landlord/Gary Busey stand-in Maggie (apologies as I didn't recognize the actress). Even with Bernie's she-can-have-her-way-with-me-up-to-five-times-a-month discount, they still need to cover $700 a month. Here's where things get, let's go with interesting. Bernie snags a dream job working for Rolling Rock after an executive overhears his impassioned speech about drinking the product (whaaaaa?), while Fitz confesses his lifelong aspiration is to become Captain Picard. And since he's a fictional character, his goes with number two on his list: becoming a male model.
Fitz nevertheless is timid about following his dream so Bernie offers up - wait for it - a complete song and dance number set to Bon Jovi's "Livin' on a Prayer," in which the entire beach joins in, as a pep talk. And with that Fitz agrees to sign up for "So You Think You Can Be a Male Model" (again, not making any of this up) where, despite his best "power" face, he fails miserably. Crushed, Fitz blames Bernie for building him up and asks him to stay away for good. Bernie of course can't stand to see his friend in pain so he somehow manages to get Picard's captain's chair from "Star Trek: The Next Generation" as an apology gift. It works and after a few Rolling Rocks with their new friends, the guys' new status quo is restored.
What works: It's so bad...
What doesn't: ...it's almost awe-inspiring. If anything, "The Pink House" feels like a pilot from NBC's old Saturday morning programming block gone horribly wrong. A hodgepodge of awkward pauses, weak characters and, in case you missed it, a completely parachuted in song-and-dance number, the show takes so many trips down the rabbit hole of absurdity it's like I said, awe-inspiring. Each act ends with the feeling that it can't fly off the rails any further and yet it does. And that's setting aside the creepy allusions to Bernie's arrangement with Maggie ("If I want free cable I have to... I can't even say it out loud without throwing up in my mouth."), the silly 90 degree turns the plot takes and the generally limp quality of its joke targets (among them: "Princess Diaries 2," In-N-Out Burger, the holodeck on "TNG," Emily's job as a pharmaceutical rep, and pubic hair relaxer).
"The Pink House" is a show that's almost proud of the fact it's held together by Scotch Tape as it crumples up its paper thin characters and pastes them into increasingly ridiculous situations. Cassidy and Cregger, to their credit, do their best to commit to things but they're constantly lapped by the absurdity of the situations they're put in. It's not even over-the-top for the sake of being over-the-top either as the plot boldly suggests this is an earnest show about two twentysomethings trying to find themselves. At the end of the day, all I can say is...
The bottom line: ...wow, just wow.