First Impressions – 1600 Penn: Ep 1 – 3


1600 Penn is a single-camera sitcom following the dysfunctional family living in the White House.  President Dale Gilchrist (Bill Pullman) is a remarried widower who was previously the Governor of Nevada.  His current wife is his former campaign manager, Emily Nash-Gilchrist (Jenna Elfman) and the step-mother to his four children.

The oldest is the irresponsible Skip (Josh Gad) followed by the responsible but neurotic Becca (Martha MacIsaac) and the precocious younger children, Marigold (Amara Miller) and Xander (Benjamin Stockham).

Let’s get right to the point.  The first episode sucked ass.  So much of the episode was dedicated to Skip and while I get how a reckless, dumb son of the President of the United States concept might seem funny, rather Skip just made me annoyed.  It’s typical to see Josh Gad playing these slow, dimwit type of characters and I have found them funny in the past but to dedicate an entire episode that revolves around him just doesn’t work.  He’s a character actor and what makes him funny is seeing the other characters have an over-the-top reaction to something he does when you’re least expecting it.  He works in an ensemble cast not as a lead.

The episodes that followed improved the show overall.  The First Daughter being pregnant after a one night stand storyline was okay because Becca’s known to be the uptight one.  However, I wanted more out of Bill Pullman and Jenna Elfman.  They’re old pros in this campy genre.  The show was slightly amusing but I can’t say that it made me laugh out loud.

White House Press Secretary Marshall Malloy (Andre Holland) is this young, intelligent, preppy (and yes, African American) guy who happens to have dated the President’s daughter.  However all I could think about how he resembles Dulé Hill’s Charlie character from The West Wing.  I like his character because it reminds me of the fondness I had for Charlie but I’m disappointed in the unoriginality behind the makings of his character.  Is this supposed to be Affirmative Action at work here?  If that’s the case, I would have loved to have seen Kal Penn in this role.  And he’s actually worked at the real White House.  What could be a better resume?

Long shot casting options aside, I’m disappointed that with veterans like Bill Pullman and Jenna Elfman this isn’t a better show.  The show is ridiculous but the scripts lack the intelligent quips to garner laughter but instead delivers a cheesy comedic style that’s so passé for the present generation.



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