rich teens in New York
Type of Pilot: Teen Drama
Similar Shows: Greek (teens have problems and some of the girls are very bitchy to one another), Friday Night Lights (teens have problems), Hidden Palms (teens have problems), Dawson's Creek (teens...), Beverly Hills 90210 (teens...)
The Inner Light: teens have problems
Weaknesses: Seen this before. Many times. And much better. Most recently in Greek (which is fantastic).
Impressive Characters: None. They are all very annoying and pointless. Basically, we follow a character called Serena, who arrives back amid the rich teens of Manhattan's Upper East Side, having mysteriously been away for a year. Her best friend now hates her, the best friend's (dull) boyfriend is madly in love with her, so is The School Outsider, The School Bad-Guy tries to rape her (and someone else later on), The School Outsider's Kid Sister bonds with her, and her own brother tries to commit suicide. Not to escape the tedium of the episode's events, mind you. He actually does this before the show gets under way. Oh, yeah, and the parents have history, too.
Impressive Actors: Blake Lively is a good, solid likable lead. Penn Badgley is perfectly cast as the School Outsider and potential love interest.
Less-Than-Impressive Characters: Chuck the bad kid in school (and potential, if somewhat inept, rapist) is written in very broad terms. Pick any random line of his dialogue from the episode and it will be obvious to even the most casual viewer that he is... the villain. It's all a bit OTT and humourless for my tastes. Ed Westwick, the actor playing him, is fine, and definitely has a great look. But, there's no fun in a bad-guy this obvious. He just about stops short of peeking under the skirts of the girls walking past. Sigh.
Less-Than-Impressive Actors: Chace Crawford has cornered the market in blank staring. More than anyone else in the pilot he left me cold. There appears to be nothing at all going on behind his eyes, in this part, and that's a pity because he's supposed to be: (a) madly in love with his girlfriend's former best friend, (b) coping with a pushy overbearing father. Neither of which he played convincingly. But, he looks pretty, I suppose.
Continuity: Lots. It's a soap.
Rewatchability: Are you kidding me?
Other Info: Based on a series of books.
Three Things I Kinda Like About This Pilot:
Matthew Settle is good as Badgley's dad.
Three Things I Really Don't Like About This Pilot:
The OTT bad-guy.
The stories in this series are framed by the gimmick of having them narrated by Kirsten Bell, who plays a mysterious unseen character writing a blog about what happens to the characters. The gimmick doesn't work at all, and Bell sounds like a bad parody of herself.
It's depressing to see Kelly Rutherford now playing a mom. Sigh.