May 21, 2012

Don't Trust The B in Apt. 23: "Pilot"


Don’t Trust the B in Apartment 23 was sold to the public with two obvious hooks. The appearance of James Van Der Beek, giving a self-mocking performance as himself, has been the main selling point since the project was announced. This looked to give the show a sense of “meta”, which is very in right now. Then there was the “controversy” surrounding the name of the show. Originally the B in the show’s title was lengthened to Bitch but then ABC remembered we live in a country that’s totally cool with lots of talk concerning rape and child prostitution (watch any episode of SVU) but not so cool with swear words. Honestly, ABC probably knew they were going to have to change the show’s name, but wanted to benefit from any complaints they gathered. Given the show’s recent renewal, it looks like this worked to a certain extent.

Apt. 23, at least in its pilot episode, is neither meta nor edgy. What it is, like pretty much every sitcom pilot ever (save a Cheers here or there), is unsure. The basic premise is there, but not much personality. That plot concerns June Colburn, played by Dreama Walker, an Indiana girl-next-door type with big ambitions that are squashed within the shows first act. She looses her job and her apartment, and is forced to move in with Krysten Ritter’s Chloe, the B from the show’s title. Chloe makes noise late into the night, interrupts June’s bath, and cheats her out of money. She does this in order to force June to move out, leaving Chloe with June’s rent money, and an empty apartment.

Of course, given that this is the opening to a sitcom that needs a central conflict, June decides to fight back and sells all of Chloe’s furniture. Chloe then lies in order to gain back an ottoman filled with rare and expensive drugs. Just as any semblance of trust is lost between the roommates, Chloe finds out that June’s fiancée is cheating on her. June, of course, doesn’t believe Chloe, who is forced to seduce said fiancée (which is very easy, considering she looks like Krysten Ritter) to prove his disloyalty. By the end of the episode Chloe and June are somewhere close to friendship, brought together by Chloe’s sympathies for June, and June’s friendliness.

Chloe is not much more than a bitch at this point, but the show needn’t give her depth in the first episode. June, on the other hand, doesn’t have much definition at all, which is too bad considering she’s our window into this world. Right now, the show itself is much like the ad that Van Der Beek filmed for a Vietnamese energy drink: it’s odd, but not quite odd enough, with a lot of energy. Also like an advertisement, I’m not sure how long this can go on. If the roommates are already close, what conflict will the show cull from? Perhaps any emotional ground gained in this half-hour will be washed away by the next episode, and stake will be rebuilt. Because if you have the word Bitch in your title, or even the word B, I expect something with more edge than a couple pals hanging out in New York City. We have enough of those show. Here’s hoping Apt. 23 develops a voice, and a bite.

Grade: B-

Miscellaneous:

  • So far, Van Der Beek is the best part of the show, though his performance still hasn’t popped like I’d hoped. I’m hoping they drop the Dawson’s Creek jokes soon, and just develop his character, though I’d be surprised if that’s the last time we heard “I don’t want to wait…”
  • If you’re a character in a sitcom and you say that you’re life plan is “right on schedule”, you’re kind of fucked.
  • The show’s “edgy but not really” attitude is accidentally captured perfectly by the use of a Sleigh Bells song at the episode’s open.
  • No funny lines jumped out in this episode, but in the future, those will be listed down here.

1 comment:

  1. I love this blog! I think you were dead on to why they changed the name of the show, and also on why they kept it what it was to begin with. That old adage, “all press is good press” has once more been proven correct. I just re-watched the finale last night. It was nice to be able to use Auto Hop and not have to deal with the commercials; as an employee beta tester for Dish, this is easily my favorite thing. Super excited the show is coming back for a second season, too!

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