Alyson Hannigan, the girl who made Harry Knowles fall in love with “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” recently signed a series deal with NBC, which quickly paired her up with a couple of “Sports Night” writers for a sitcom. Sounds like it might be okay, yes? (Well, except for the “NBC” part, of course.)
Coaxial spy “Moonshine” attended the pilot taping:
I’m sure the talk-backers are going to scream “Get over it!” and “Move on!” to this one, but in my house (as I’m sure it is in yours) it’s a time of great mourning. The Buffyverse, it seems, is sputtering out. Buffy’s long gone. Barring a miracle, Angel’s taking his bow too. And though it’s only connected in a guilty by association (or, in my mind, kindred in spirit) way, Wonderfalls is toast now too. Which just sucks. And, I’m sorry Eliza, but Tru Calling just doesn’t cut it.
So, what’s a Buffy fan in misery to do? Well, Alyson Hannigan’s got a new sitcom in the pipeline, and as far as I’m concerned, Aly rules. I’d love to see her on my TV screen doing just about anything. So when I found out I could score a slot in the audience for the filming of her new pilot, I jumped at the chance. And, believe me, that’s not a small task, Herc. For those who don’t know, sitcom tapings are torture. Imagine spending anywhere from 3 to 6 hours watching them do the same jokes over and over (including the time standing in line beforehand, this one ran to the 6 hour mark). If you’re me, you’ll invariably be stuck next to the most obnoxious audience member available. Someone who weighs about 350 pounds and will scream and bounce in her seat for the entire six hours as if she’s a Price Is Right audience member desperate for her moment in the spotlight when the camera pans the audience before commercials.
Well, I endured this torture, and although it was exhausting, it wasn’t entirely awful. I don’t watch many sitcoms because so few of them offer any surprises. On the downside, Aly’s show, which had been previously dubbed “Untitled Tarses Wrubel Pilot” up until the day of shooting and suddenly grew a new title of “Americana” on taping day, pretty much lived up to that standard sitcom model. If this show makes it onto NBC’s fall schedule, don’t expect anything remotely groundbreaking or new. The show was written by Bill Wrubel and Matt Tarses, who were both involved with Sports Night, so that’s a plus. And the show wasn’t really all that bad. I hesitate to critique the episode I saw taped because it’s a pilot, one that hasn’t been audience researched to death or even picked up yet. Who knows if it'll ever make it to the air, even if it is picked up? But here’s the basic set-up. Alyson plays Andy, a lonely workaholic, who works at Americana Home and Hardware (think Restoration Hardware), a company that sells old-looking crap to people who want their homes to look like a Martha Stewart wet dream (pre-conviction, that is...I imagine Martha’s dreams are pretty dry these days). Andy’s recently had sex with her hunky boss, played by Coupling’s Colin Ferguson, and has confused that with love. Colin, of course, plays the token horny cad, who will invariably let our heroine down. Most of the action takes place at the Americana store that Andy works at, so we have a supporting cast of co-workers. We’ve got Andy’s assistant, a high strung nerdy chick who blurts out inappropriate confessions whenever she’s stressed, which is just about always; an equally geeky shipping and receiving dude, who thinks Andy’s business acumen rules, and who’s completely oblivious to the fact that Andy’s nerdy assistant is head over heels in love with him; and Americana’s founder, a J. Peterman-esque billionaire “adventurer” who jets off to Canada to hunt caribou, but ends up drinking fine wines instead.
But the meat of the story isn’t really Americana or the supporting cast of co-workers. The primary co-star of this series is Michael Landes, who plays Andy’s estranged brother, a ne’er do well who runs up gambling debts and only shows up on Andy’s doorstep when he needs something. Since this is a sitcom in which this character needs to stick around, he’s not the total prick his character set-up would generally lead you to expect. In the end, he’ll come around, help Andy save the day, and they’ll end up buddies.
Oh, and there’s a dog. And a snarky, “husky” teen neighbor boy who’s in love with Andy. I liked the dog, and the kid got some of the best punchlines in the pilot. But both are devices that could obviously wear thin very quickly. And for the trivia-minded, I’ll mention the fact that David Schwimmer directed the pilot.
All in all, I guess I’m hoping that NBC will give this a shot. I think Aly should be a ridiculously famous star, so it’d be cool if they gave her the post-Joey slot on Thursdays. Give this girl a chance to shine. I’ll never sit in the audience for one of her show tapings again (masochism isn’t my thing), but I’d probably tune in once a week to see her. And that’s what NBC wants, isn’t it?
Hell, if NBC doesn’t want her, I say bring on Joss
Whedon and the Willow spin-off. Yeah, I know, let’s
all say it together...“get over it!”