Photo via TV, eh?
Let me begin by saying that I believe the TV show works better than the film did, much as I expected. I think the 22-minute format is better suited for the concept. As I said in my review of the film, I felt that the story was trying to be too many things at once. The show, at least with one episode to judge thus far, seems to have settled on a more basic idea: quirky romantic comedy with a bit of curling thrown in for extra quirk. Start simple, then build. That's the path to success for every sitcom ever that was any good.
All shows take a while to find themselves. It takes time to establish characters, relationships, story lines and so forth. The first episode of Cheers ("Give Me a Ring Sometime") is just about as tidy as one could possibly hope for a half-hour show to be and yet even it is rough around the edges compared to later installments. In the MwB pilot, we meet all of the principals: the four members of the rink (all male), their main supporters (all female) and the narrator, Paul Gross, who also makes an on-screen cameo reprising his role from the film. The men are all rather clumsy and insecure whereas the women are more capable - not to mention far more attractive. As is often the case in a show's premier, a budding romance is introduced between protagonist Gary (played by Brendan Gall) and new-to-town April (Siobhan Murphy - I love the name Siobhan). So far, pretty standard stuff.
The show is genuinely funny, always a good sign for a situation comedy. My first out-loud guffaw came as Gary's ex lit up a blow torch. I watched the show twice and actually found it funnier the second time - definitely a positive.
I will be very interested to see to what extent curling plays a meaningful role in the show. In "Pilot," it provides a context for a first date. The club provides the primary setting. The men's interest and the women's indifference helps to establish the tension in their relationships. Right off the bat, there's an attempt to cast the game as metaphor for life. The writers have found clever and subtle ways to acquaint the uninitiated with the rules, culture and jargon of the game. In particular, I'll be watching for how well the show lives up to The Spirit of Curling...
I find the fact that the rink decides to throw the game in the "meatspiel" a bit disappointing - falling a bit short of The Spirit. However, I really like the fact that the rink that beat them shared some of the spoils - very much in The Spirit. Net zero - the jury's still out.
Generally, I am encouraged by the show's first offering. The concept has promise. The writing is good but as yet uneven, not unlike the film. That is certainly not unusual for a pilot and I hope future installments will flow better. The acting is generally strong, though someone needs to tell Aliyah O'Brien (the stunning actress who plays Tannis) that she could stand to speak a bit more slowly. Anand Rajaram (Pramesh) seems destined to become a fan favorite. His performance in "Pilot" is a little over the top but he obviously has show-stealing capability and could ultimately become the face of the show, I think.
Episode 1 - Pilot (only accessible in Canada)
Some of the CBC extras are accessible State-side:
Webisode 1 - The Crushers
Episode 2 promo - Death of the Birth Tree
Episode 1 Trivia (I scored 10/10)