Review Roundup: NBC's 1600 PENN, Premiering 1/10
David Wiegand, San Francisco Chronicle: None of the real-life White House kids hold a candle to Skip Gilchrist (series co-creator Josh Gad), a latter-day John Belushi type who's spent seven years trying to graduate from college and has absolutely no skills, except for a knack for setting things on fire... But if the series is to find its audience in the long haul, it needs to spread the comedy around a bit. Pullman, for one, is seriously underutilized, and turning him into a slightly glorified straight man for Skip is a waste of his considerable abilities.
Rick Ellis, Examiner.com: "1600 Penn" is one of those shows I suspect will bring out that impulse in a lot of critics. It's a series with a troublesome premise yet it also contains some very good acting and some flashes of real stellar writing. But based on the three episodes I've seen so far it's also a mess. Albeit one with the potential to become a show worth watching.
Daniel Fienberg, Hitflix.com: There are punchlines in "1600 Penn" that landed solidly for me and produced the desired chuckles, but even more than your typical pilot, this feels like a rough draft and coming from director Jason Winer, whose "Modern Family" pilot is one of the great recent examples of a series arriving fully realized from the opening episode, that's a disappointment. There are too many moments of easy ethnic humor or easy physical humor or easy broadness that could lay a template for a lazy show that I'd find unbearable.
Josh Bell, Las Vegas Weekly: The show imports tired sitcom storylines to the White House setting (the Austrian chancellor is coming for dinner, and the First Lady accidentally broke all the priceless Austrian china!) with little creativity, then tops them off with bland life lessons. An alien invasion would be a definite improvement.
Tom Conroy, Media Life Magazine: ...the jokes tend toward the dumb and obvious, so much so that one begins to suspect the show is a parody. Unfortunately, it seems that the creators intend us to take their weak jokes straight. Although the cast members are talented, they can't compensate for the absence of any discernible satiric targets and, in fact, the absence of any point to the show.