‘1600 Penn’ premiere review: Is there potential here?

1600 PennAfter Monday night’s performance-show finale for “The Voice,” NBC made a smart move in trying to launch another one of their new comedies in “1600 Penn,” a show that really seems to take some of the concepts of “Veep,” combine them with a family comedy, and then take out all of the swear words.

What are they left with? A show that has some decent characters and potential for laughs, but for the time being, the word “potential” is key. They’re just not present yet, and this could just be the symptom of it being a comedy pilot. The truth is, there have not been many pilots over the past two years that have been particular amazing. “New Girl,” “Go On,” and “Ben and Kate” are probably the strongest ones, and they all each had some flaws. It’s really not until a show is a few episodes in that a comedy finds its footing, as evidenced now by what is happening with “The New Normal” now, or what went down with “Parks and Recreation” years ago.

Here’s the rub with “1600 Penn”: the pilot may be a little too unfunny for its own good. We know that some of the upcoming episodes are far and away funnier, but the same can be said for another recent NBC comedy in “Animal Practice” that is no longer on the air. Your show needs to draw enough interest in the first episode to get people who are willing to come back, and we’re not positive that the show did this. The one thing it does have going for it, though, is Josh Gad. The Broadway vet is the best part of the pilot as the oddball Skip, and the show really seems to be as much about him as it is his Presidential dad. These sort of lead characters are born in a sitcom tradition, and he will be what makes or breaks the show.

The other thing we do like here is how the President is not necessarily painted as a moron, and the family here is not traditional by any means despite being the most-famous residence in all of America. We don’t know if this is enough to carry the show for an entire season, but for anyone skeptical, we do recommend giving this show a few more weeks followings its return in January. After all, “The New Normal” became so good over time we’ve nominated it for Best New Show.

Photo: NBC

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