Ever since The West Wing ended, I’ve longed for a show that goes inside The White House. Sure, I chuckled my way through That’s My Bush a decade ago, and I kind of liked Geena Davis’ Commander in Chief in 2005. Now, we’ve got 1600 Penn. I’m still waiting.
Although 1600 Penn has a good cast, the show itself doesn’t really seem to “gel” for me. It’s too silly. No one is going to believe this is what The White House is really like. I kept thinking this premise might work for a movie, but as a weekly series? No.
Bill Pullman is the President, but—as Martin Sheen was originally conceived to be a minor part of The West Wing—his involvement is overshadowed by his wacky kids. The real star of this show is Josh Gad as First Son Skip Gilchrist. Gad is poised to be a big screen star when his movie (based on the Broadway Hit, The Book of Mormon, from South Park and—coincidentally, That’s My Bush—creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone) comes out in 2014, but is NBC willing to let this show limp along until then? I don’t think programming executives are that patient.
In the pilot, Skip saves the day when his father messes up on an international scale. Without going into detail and spoiling the premise, let me just say it’s completely ridiculous that such a turn of events could happen. The show treats the Presidency with the same level of reality that an issue of Archie comics would. That makes me wonder who would tune in for this. West Wing fans would be turned off by the silliness. South Park fans wouldn’t bother watching at the outset. I kept watching, hoping it would get better. It didn’t.
TV Gord’s Final Verdict: Watch while you can. (Cancelled early on.)