couple moves in beside swingers in 1970s suburbia
Type of Pilot: Soap; Drama
Similar Shows: early Knots Landing (married couples and their neighbours in the 1970s); Californication (casual sex abounds)
The Inner Light: "Why don't the four of us go someplace a little quieter?"
Strengths: Superb cast, interesting premise.
Weaknesses: Could be just another soap.
Impressive Characters: Susan Miller is the likable character at the center of this story. We join them, over the July 4th celebrations of 1976, as they prepare to move house. Susan and her husband married out of school, had two kids and are devoted and happy like you would not believe (when the first appeared on-screen, I thought they were meant to be newlyweds). They cannot keep their hands off one another. But, while they have never even considered being unfaithful, the pilot (in a subtle way) gives the impression that Susan has a tiny "crush" (?) on their neighbour Roger. But nothing happens, and - twenty minutes in - they move house. Where they meet some swingers and Susan's eyes are opened. She's very likable and it was fun to watch her journey.
Janet is Susan's neighbour. From before the move. She's a little over-the-top and likes me make Susan feel guilty about moving to bigger house in a better area. In a move of sheer genius, the writers drop Janet and her husband in the middle of the swingers party and it is hilarious and fascinating to watch her reaction. I can't wait to see how the character changes from here on in.
Susan's teenage daughter is dealing with an idiot boyfriend and getting close to one of her teachers. And one of the neighbours has a fascinating teenage daughter, too. She's preparing to run away, it seems.
Finally, although she gets very little screentime, Trina the swinger is fun to watch. She seems likable but manipulative and - again - I can't wait to see how the character changes from here on in.
Impressive Actors: Molly Parker is a great lead (although she doesn't look old enough to have teenage children - which I guess is the point). The big seduction scene at the end was all about her and she held the camera like nobody's business. Jack Davenport is great as her husband, but the script gives him very little to do. Grant Show is likewise given very little to do, and it's a shame to waste such a talented actor. Josh Hopkins is brillaint in his role and I was delighted when I realised that the story was not leaving him (and his up-tight wife) behind.
Less-Than-Impressive Characters: All three husbands come off a bit meek and boring. The show is about the wives. And the husbands just react to what the wives want. At least in this first episode.
Less-Than-Impressive Actors: It's a strong cast. No weak links. All the kids are good, too. And they storylines given to the kids (although more typical of soaps) are all very engrossing. But fall short of the storyline for the adults. That's where the show shines.
Continuity: Probably be a lot of continuity. And hopefully a bit of character-development for the husbands.
Rewatchability: To my suprise, I'd quite like to watch this pilot again.
Three Things I Really Like About This Pilot:
Lana Parrilla is one of my favourite performers and I've seen her in so many of my favourite shows. Her character, Trina, gets relatively little screentime, but Parrilla is fantastic at the part. A kind of role I've not see her in before.
Very enjoyable. Thought-provoking.