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Should You Watch NBC's 'About a Boy' TV Show?

By Dustin Rowles | TV | February 25, 2014 |

By Dustin Rowles | TV | February 25, 2014 |

Of course you should watch About a Boy. It comes from Jason Katims (Parenthood, Friday Night Lights), stars the charmingly caddish David Walton, who is perfectly cast as Will; Minnie Driver as the neurotic neighbor, Fiona; and a cute kid in Benjamin Stockham as Marcus. It’s also based on a Nick Hornby novel (later adapted into a movie with Hugh Grant, of course). I’d say that, based on most of the evidence, it’s impossible to cock-up Nick Hornby’s source material, but I’ve seen Fever Pitch, so About a Boy wasn’t completely guaranteed to work.

The pilot for the series aired after the Olympics on Saturday at 11:05 p.m., so you probably didn’t see it, which is just as well, honestly. Pilots are notoriously bad predictors of a series’ eventual quality, and in this case, I’d much rather rely on Katims’ near spotless track record as a predictor ( save for this struggling season of Parenthood, which I’m willing to attribute to the fact that Katims is spending more time on this new sitcom).

That pilot essentially streamlines the entire movie into 22 minutes, and as heavily condensed movies go, it’s not bad at all. Katims does a nice job of introducing the characters using the exact same set-up from the source material. Will hits on a woman (Leslie Bibb) on her way into a single parents group, ends up lying about having a child of his own in order to sleep with her, and passes off Marcus as that child. That’s really just a contrivance that allows Marcus and Will to bond, here mostly in montage and high-fives, and later seal the friendship when Will saves Marcus’ ass at a middle-school talent show (“Killing Me Softly” has been replaced with a One Direction song, and Will’s guitar in the movie has been replaced by a keyboard and a light show in the series).

There’s also a best friend to chastise Will for his bad decisions (The Daily Show’s Al Madrigal), and at some point Annie Mumolo (who co-wrote Bridesmaids) will be introduced, likely as a friend to Fiona. Speaking of Fiona, Minnie Driver is a fairly excellent television version of Toni Collete, straddling the line between likable mom and strident, New Age vegan with violent mood swings.

As Katims’ shows also tend to do, the finale will leave you on the happy-misty side, even as you acknowledge that you’ve been manipulated, although given the almost immediate bond with the characters — particularly the ever-charismatic Walton — not a lot of manipulation is necessary. But again the pilot, which is sweet but insubstantial, is hardly enough to base a series on. Nevertheless, you should definitely give the series a shot when it debuts in its regular time slot tonight on NBC at 9, up against New Girl and The Goldbergs, so you may have some choices to make when it comes to your DVR preferences.

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here or follow him on Twitter.

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