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This Is Us (NBC)

Discussion in 'TV Shows' started by Adam Lenhardt, Sep 20, 2016.

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  1. Message #1 of 258 Sep 20, 2016
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2016
    Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Director

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    NBC's latest contender to fill the tearjerker slot (vacated by "Parenthood" last year) premiered tonight. It follows four characters -- an expectant father (Milo Ventimiglia), an adoptee recently reunited with his biological father (Sterling K. Brown), a handsome but disenchanted actor trapped on a terrible sitcom (Justin Hartley) and his twin sister with weight problems (Chrissy Metz) -- who all share the same birthday and are all celebrating their 36th birthday.

    It was created by Dan Fogelman, the screenwriter of Crazy, Stupid, Love, a well-made family dramedy that a lot of people liked but which rang false to me. I was offended by the central premise that Steve Carell's character bore responsibility for his wife's infidelity, and that his primary goal in life should be to woo her back. For the most part, this is better. Even when it's unabashedly sappy, and even when things feel a bit too objective to ring true, the writing's sharp enough to keep me interested. And there are some flashes of greatness.

    Even though it's only two days after this year's Emmy Awards, I think Gerald McRaney is a strong contender to win the Best Guest Actor Emmy next year. He's the heart of this pilot, and he's given a speech that ranks up there with the truly great monologues of the stage. Every moment he's onscreen is exactly right, with a character that easily could have felt tired or overfamiliar.

    Of the four main characters, Ventimiglia shined the most in the pilot (but he was also given the most to do). Mandy Moore was terrific as his wife, winning me over completely in just a handful of scenes. Brown, who just won an Emmy for "American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson", also navigated some interesting territory even though his character has defenses up that make him a bit harder to peer inside of. Hartley was a lot of fun on "Smallville" as a lighter version of Oliver Queen/Green Arrow, and he's been toiling in the daytime soap opera salt mines since. His performance here feels a bit lighter weight than the others, but he delivers exactly what the role's required so far. Metz makes you feel every agonizing moment of her character's emotional state, but the episode doesn't give her anything to do that isn't connected directly to her weight struggle. Hopefully that will change in future episodes.

    Part of the buzz surrounding this show was the promise of a twist ending at the end of the pilot. Crazy, Stupid Love had a twist too, which was fairly incidental to the proceeding. But this twist a great one: like the best twists, I didn't see it coming at all but it felt completely obvious in retrospect. It was emotionally satisfying, and central to the premise. And the show didn't cheat, even though
    some of the early scenes had to be very careful with the costume and production design choices.
     
  2. Message #2 of 258 Sep 21, 2016
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2016
    Malcolm R

    Malcolm R Executive Producer

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    Per your spoiler, that's kind of what turned me off. I think it was a big "cheat" for the sake of the OMG ending.

    I'm also weary of shows that...
    ... continually use a flashback gimmick. I don't care about the past, just tell the here and now.

    I'm also not clear on the timeline. Interviews with the creators seem to indicate the kids were born in 1979, but didn't Kevin say he saw the Challenger disaster when he was 2? That happened in 1986, so he would have been at least 6.

    I'll probably watch another ep or two, but I'm not sure I'll stick with this one.
     
  3. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Director

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    I went back and looked.
    The rooms they were in were relatively unadorned with white walls, in a timeless way that could have been 1922 or 2016. The Steelers "terrible towel" was definitely a seventies design and not one of the more contemporary versions. Mandy Moore was in maternity clothes that were pretty basic and so pretty timeless. Milo's clothes would have fit right in back then but would also be respectable as retro-cool in a hipster shopping at Goodwill kind of a way. They were careful to show as little of the technology as possible, and McRaney's character was in scrubs that again haven't changed much in the last forty years.

    He said he saw the Challenger disaster in class when he was in second grade, which would line right up with a 1979 birth year, and make the show's "present" 2015.
     
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  4. Malcolm R

    Malcolm R Executive Producer

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    Yeah, I went back and watched some, too. I must have been only half paying attention, as there were a few other details I missed. My brain must have translated second grade as age two. In that scene, Kevin does go on to say, "a room full of 7-year-olds...," so the timing is fine.
     
  5. David Weicker

    David Weicker Producer

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    I enjoyed it. Definitely felt the 'Parenthood' vibe.

    As for the twist, my biggest concern is
    how much Milo and Mandy (as well as McRaney) will be in it. If they focus on present day, then they are reduced to glorified guest stars. And I would like to follow their stories too.

    Of course, they could continue to do split-time stories, but that might lose the audience.
     
  6. NeilO

    NeilO Producer

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    I just tried it out. It was pretty good.

    I was wondering how they were all going to be really connected together. I had been thinking of a big adopted house, but as the show went on that was dismissed. I don't know whether I'll continue watching or not, It probably depends on whether my wife will want to watch it. She does like Gerald McRaney. (Unfortunately, she'll be away for a few days, so I'll have to wait a while.)
     
  7. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Director

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    David:
    The writers have said that the four storylines will continues to get more or less equal screen time. But while the three present day storylines will unfold linearly, the Milo and Mandy storyline will jump around in time. The Milo and Mandy second episode storyline is set in early 1988 when the kids are eight. The Milo and Mandy third episode storyline picks up with them bringing the newborns home from the hospital. The Milo and Mandy storylines will be linked thematically to the present day storylines.
     
  8. Johnny Angell

    Johnny Angell Played With Dinosaurs Member

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    Yeah, Adam, it makes sense that all four storylines will be continued. They had better continue Milo and Mandy after making them so damn attractive. These are two people I'd like to know. I loved her traditional birthday dance, short as it was.

    As I was watching this I really enjoyed Gerald McRaney, but I don't see a spot for the continued presence of an obstetrician in the story. Too bad.

    The overweight couple story was handled with taste and understanding of their issues. I didn't think I'd care about the Man-ny actor but I did.

    I have no criticisms of the show and I loved the twist. Didn't see it coming even though I knew there was one.

    After one episode, please renew "This is US".
     
  9. mylan

    mylan Screenwriter

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    My wife and I both loved it, Gerald nailed it as did everyone else. I only have one gripe, which was the inclusion of smoking in the hospital to indicate the time frame, I was a sophomore in high school in 79-80 and smoking had long since banned even then.
     
  10. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Studio Mogul

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    I fear I won't like the present-day storyline lines going forward.
     
  11. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    Hey Patrick! :D Nice to see ya here!

    This Parenthood groupie is here and accounted for. Watching with interest.

    That "gotcha" ending was one of the best I've ever seen on TV. Quite an interesting gambit.

    I am more than willing to give this effort a lot of rope. And looking forward to seeing how things go.
     
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  12. GlennF

    GlennF Second Unit
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    Enjoyed it...didn't love it, but will definitely give it another try. Not sure where any of the plot lines are going yet. The twist is what elevated the first show...but what do you do next? I guess we find out tonight.
     
  13. Jason_V

    Jason_V Lead Actor

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    Very much enjoyed ep 1 because of the relationships. They all felt real in one way or another...the one that got me the most was Kevin and Kate. I expect siblings to support each other like they do, but the chemistry felt right to me.

    There's a lot more for this show to do in the long run. With at least three different storylines, this can be fresh for years. Characters could be swapped out for others with the same birthday and a connection to what we've already seen. I'm in, but then again I am a sucker for these kinds of dramas.
     
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  14. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    I enjoyed it a good bit and look forward to the next episode. This isn't "Parenthood" yet, but it's got potential.
     
  15. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Director

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    I liked the second episode. A bit trite at times, but I can get past it. Liked that we got to see the three kids act as a family unit this week, so we get a glimpse into the waters of that complex three-way-birthday dynamic. And then the final scene delivered another whopper. Very enjoyable cast for the most part.
     
  16. Elizabeth S

    Elizabeth S Producer

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    I'm enjoying it very much so far.

    I've seen Milo Ventimiglia in quite a few things, but this may be some of his best acting. Not particularly a fan, but he's impressed me now.

    I presume we're supposed to support Kevin and his refusal to participate in such a stupid sitcom. However, I think he's being a whiny baby -- you signed the damned contract so honor your commitment.
     
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  17. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    Yeah. My wife and I like Milo too (after all, he is a Gilmore Girls alum). But Mandy Moore--while extremely attractive--has never been able to sell us in a role. We haven't seen her in a lot of things, but we have a vivid memory of seeing her film A Walk to Remember in the theaters and laughing throughout when we were supposed to be crying at the sad parts.

    And the writing in episode 2 got pretty clunky at times. Some pretty hard-to-buy lines in this one.

    But, we both continue to like the quick "gotcha" moments at the very end of the episodes. But that can't possibly continue each week--can it? Loved this week's:

    First: the idea that the parents would show up as the grandparents in the contemporary storylines. Second: That both parents weren't included as the "grandparents."
     
  18. Stan

    Stan Producer

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    Sorry, I forgot how to do spoilers, but we're three days past broadcast, isn't it allowed now?

    Anyhow, the grandfather Is now John Huertas, not Milo. He and Milo were sitting at a bar, but Huertas then married Milo's wife? Maybe I missed a scene, but very fascinating show.

    Kind of tricky to keep up with at first, but really well done.
     
  19. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Director

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    The interesting thing is that Mandy Moore's character is still wearing the necklace that Milo Ventimiglia's character gave her, so that definitely points more towards widow than divorcee. I could see Jon Huertas's character helping out the family in the aftermath of Milo's death, and growing closer to Mandy as a result.

    Of the three kids, Randall (played by Sterling K. Brown) is by far the most interesting so far. I love how natural he is with his two daughters, and how his wife has to protect him because he's spent his entire life trying to please everyone. You see it even on the phone call with his adoptive brother: Kevin, self-aborbed as actors tend to be, has a moment of introspection and reflects that he wasn't a very good brother to Randall. Randall agrees that he wasn't, but there's no harshness there. Instead, he tells Kevin that it's not too late to change that. It's an open question whether Kevin will be able to see beyond his own current crisis enough to rise and meet that challenge.

    The little moment near the end of the second episode, where Randall's biological father gives his asthmatic granddaughter her inhaler before Randall's wife can say anything, was a nice touch too.
     
  20. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    That's exactly what we were thinking...
     

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