Tuesday, February 26, 2013

1600 Penn

1600 Penn
Episode 6: Skip the Tour
By: Carlos Uribe

1600 Penn is a show about a normal family that happens to reside in the White House.

Spoilers Ahoy!

This show is still on the air? I've completely forgotten it even existed over the last couple of weeks but the network aired another episode. Was it a good one? It had some moments but it was as weak as the other episodes. The characters remained undefined, the relationships were surface-level, and the situations felt forced. Take for example the main plot. President Dale's brother is coming to visit him at the White House for the first time. The public image is that they're happy to see him but Emily and Dale aren't looking forward to the visit because the brother makes too many rude jokes about Dale. The episode tries to dig deeper into that relation with Emily revealing that the brother always tells the same embarrassing story because he's been jealous of how Dale's life turned out. It's her theory but the viewer has to take her word for it since this is the first episode where we learn that Dale even has a brother and it was busy setting up their relationship. She turns out to be right but the big fighting climax scene rings false because the two never really felt like brothers. That would require both of them to have actually be developed. The main plot could have worked if it revealed anything new about Dale but didn't really. All we learn is that he was a coward that ran away from one fight but it's only significant in the brother's life. The plot wasn't funny because the antics of the brother never brought good comedy with it due to how undeveloped it all is. It was still better than all of the other plots-especially Skip's story.

I understand that the writers think that Skip is the best thing about this show. That's highly debatable since there's moments where he can be the only good part about a scene and others where he drags an episode down. This would be one of the cases where I could have used less Skip. His entire plot is that he decides to give a tour of the White House to tourists. He steals them away from the official tour guide in an effort to show them real history but quickly finds his trivia to be rebuffed by actual experts. The only reason his tour is of any success is because he was able to get them into a first-hand look into the personal life of his dad. They don't really get to hear (or see) anything that would damage the President's reputation but they do see him in moments of “human” weakness. The whole problem with the tour is that it never really leads to any funny moments. It's largely just there. It doesn't contribute to the episode but rather detracts from it. I guess the idea of Skip leading a White House tour might have sounded good but it ultimately fell flat in the execution. This wasn't a problem of undeveloped characters but rather lack of any solid material.

The episode also deals with Becca, her pregnancy, and relationship with Marshall. Becca and D.B. are being interviewed by the media over how her pregnancy is going. While she's preparing for the interview, she learns that Marshall has started a new relationship with a woman. She sends a text to sabotage their relationship but immediately regrets it. I'm guessing that the writers were trying to tell us she's not over him but the two lack any chemistry to sell it. It never really feels like they used to be together so it's difficult to invest myself in whether they'll get back together or not. It all just feels so very superficial and even superfluous. The episode ends on the predictable note where she uses the interview to express a “heartfelt” apology. An apology that could have felt real if Becca was developed enough so that the characters could make it something only her character would do. It comes across as cheesy because it's the predictable thing to do. When Marshall and his new girlfriend comment that it's the first time she has appeared human, it's an aspect of the character that only they see because she remained flat.

If you missed 1600 Penn because you forgot it existed, Skip the Tour is not a strong enough half-hour to really go back and see what you missed. If anything Skip the Tour is an episode that you should skip. Oh, and that terrible pun? It's better than most of the jokes that were present on this episode-so that should speak volumes about how lifeless this comedy can be.

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