Karen Gillan in the leading role of a new major US sit-com? Well, we had to check that out! Stacy Embry gives us the lowdown on the pilot episode of Selfie.
The world wide been-there, seen-that and have-the-picture-of-me-there-to-prove-it social media craze has already come to American television in a new situation comedy, SELFIE. Karen Gillian, of Guardians of the Galaxy, Oculus and world-wide Doctor Who fame, is the self-obsessed Eliza Dooley. Here in the show's pilot, Ms. Gillian has some nudity and more make-up than Rory Williams would ever have appreciated on his beloved shrewish wife. But she's still a beautiful woman through the caked on face, and even after she had a make-under as the self-congratulatory script mentioned. However, Karen Gillan is just not convincing as an American woman. A cross between an 80s Valley Girl and some kid of almost Vivian Leigh/Blanche DuBoise persona, this character is awkward... and not in a planned way.
Personally, I don't usually like Americans pretending to be British or vice versa (except for Johnny Depp and Robert Downey Jr.), because like Ms. Gillian...most actors fade in and out of their accent leaving a jarring pronunciation every few minutes that just unnerves the audience. Indeed, Karen as Eliza dropped the accent in her very first sentence! To add insult to ignorance, this sitcom furthermore claims the great George Bernard Shaw's masterpiece Pygmalion as the fodder forming their damp hamster cage lining of a script. Emily Kapnek, as Executive Producer and writer, clearly insults Shaw. (I'd love to hear him take Kapnek down for her desecration.) In my pale version of Shaw's wit, Ms Kapnek has created a confusing mash up of too many characters, B actors in supporting roles, and lack-luster leads clogging up the arteries of drooling Americans already too plus-sized and glassy-eyed from sitting in front of the television anyway. Mr Shaw was first always a critic and his poison pen was.... wait for it, legendary. (I guess I miss HIMYM).
The production, script, actors... and the incessant hashtags (#overSELFIE) includes the always solid John Cho, from Harold And Kumar fame, and the Shakespearean stalwart David Harewood also from the two-part Tenant WHO regeneration bonanza The End Of Time. Bluntly, Cho is too good for this series and deserves much more in character and development. Then, Harewood is too facile in his acting skill to be marooned with Amy Pond. There is no connection with any characters to snare the viewer, just a treadmill stress-test of Gillian trying to be interesting, while Cho tries to repackage her and Harewood stands around like a poor man's Matt Berry as Douglas Reynholm in The IT Crowd. BTW: (#bow ties are NOT cool on Cho).
Eliza/Karen is very trying and I almost feel badly for noticing the laboriousness of her plodding. I mean, her character is supposed to be shallow---isn't she, but Eliza Dooley isn't so much vapid as stupid (I never felt Eliza Doolittle was stupid, just lacking an opportunity for formal education.) We can see the work, the hunger and the good nature Ms. Gillian must bring to a project. A good example of where SELFIE just doesn't work is during the wedding argument between Gillian and Cho. Clearly, it was supposed to bristle with tension, but in fact came across banal and sad. That's the only emotion these actors elicited----abject sadness. Then, based on the lack of development from that point onward, and truthfully Ms. Gillian's seeming lack of ability, I have no faith that over the course of a 23 episode American television season that SELFIE can, or will, get tolerable. After the pilot, I already feel like a block of parmesan cheese in a plastic cheese grater being carried around a middle-class Italian restaurant: Warm and oily.
Though Amy Pond did improve over her seasons on Doctor Who, I fear we've gone as far into Karen Gillian's talent as the lingering magic of the TARDIS can take us. If you loved Amy and call her AMELIA, "Selfie" may be your show... download it if you don't get it live. If you love John Cho, follow him here on ABC television. But if Gillian is just the pretty red-headed girl who hung out with Matt Smith on Doctor Who, don't bother.
Ultimately I'd post, "keep moving.... there's nothing to see here" for this train-wreck of a situation comedy. After this pilot, starting with her being covered by vomit and ending drenched in rain, Karen Gillian and the show are all wet. (#selfie is passé).
Selfie debuts on ABC, September 30th
Stacy enjoys sharing her occasionally polarizing opinions to elicit discussion. In a phrase, she states: "I don't want readers to be parrots...unless they are of the Python variety wherein a "palindrome of BOLTON would be NOTLOB." A former university professor and current secondary educator... Ms. Embry is also a writer, Educational Psychologist and Grief Counselor in Indianapolis, Indiana USA.