Dodge City Daily Globe - Dodge City, KS
  • Stay Tuned: Strong cast makes 'About a Boy' worth watching

    • email print
  • “About a Boy” is a TV show written by Jason Katims (“Friday Night Lights,” “Parenthood”) based on a movie starring Hugh Grant based on a best-selling book by author Nick Hornby. If you liked the film, you'll enjoy the show. At least, you'll enjoy the first episode. It shrinks the entire movie plot into a half-hour. It's a smart choice done well, but it also leaves room for doubt about how interesting the rest of the series will be. Will it continue the charm of the pilot or quickly run out of ideas? It's a difficult task, but the talent and chemistry of the cast is a good sign it will be successful.
    Thanks to the royalties from a Christmas song he wrote, bachelor Will Freeman's (David Walton) life is carefree and kid-free until he meets his new neighbor, odd but sweet 11-year-old Marcus (Benjamin Stockham). Through a series of events that begin with Will wanting to impress a woman and end with Marcus wanting to cheer up his mom, the two begin a friendship.
    Minnie Driver plays Marcus’ needy mother Fiona with a nice balance between righteousness and vulnerability. Her funny delivery of Fiona's judgmental demands on Will gives her scenes with Walton a great spark. Fiona doesn't realize that her sadness puts her son in a caretaker role, and Driver plays this aspect of the character with the right amount of caring delusion. You don't dislike Fiona for how clueless she is.
    Will's relationship with Marcus is the focus of the series, and Walton and Stockham do a good job of making sure the “lesson” moments don't ruin the conspiratorial camaraderie that makes the friendship funny. The other key to Will's humor is that he is self-centered, but Walton shows just enough of the character's heart to keep Will's ego from becoming alienating.
    Society often elevates parenthood to sainthood, and the series is partly a commentary on the pressure this idea creates for mothers and fathers. Fiona is a damaged woman and a flawed mother who doesn't realize that her uneven emotional states have consequences on Marcus. Will's best friend Andy (Al Madrigal) is a stay-at-home dad who tells him: “Raising a child is the greatest honor a person can have,” while trying not to be overwhelmed by the demands of his children. Will seemingly floats above it all, but of course the message is that he’s missing something important in his life. It’s easy to read this missing piece as fatherhood with Marcus playing the role of Will’s surrogate child, but I think the story is capable of more subtlety. Marcus allows Will to believe in someone and Will gives Marcus back a little of his innocence. With a strong cast, I think “About a Boy” has a good chance of keeping you interested in this story week after week.
    Page 2 of 2 - “About a Boy” is on Tuesdays at 9 p.m. EDT on NBC.
    Melissa Crawley is the author of “Mr. Sorkin Goes to Washington: Shaping the President on Television’s ‘The West Wing.’” She has a PhD in media studies and is a member of the Television Critics Association. To comment on Stay Tuned, email her at staytuned@outlook.com or follow her on Twitter at @MelissaCrawley.
Terms of Service

    Events Calendar