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Winter TV Preview 2014: NBC’s About a Boy [PHOTOS and VIDEOS]

About a Boy - Season Pilot

Photo Credit: John Russo/NBC

WARNING: Spoilers for NBC’s About a Boy

Tonight after the Olympics, NBC is premiering a new comedy called About a Boy. Yes, it’s based on the movie that starred Hugh Grant. And before even watching the pilot it has so many things going for it, mainly Friday Night Light and Parenthood guru Jason Katims, who created the series. And then there’s the cast: Bent and New Girl‘s David Walton (and that cheesy good Hallmark Hall of Fame Movie The Makeover); Circle of Friends and The Riches star Minnie Driver; and Benjamin Stockham, a supremely talented kid I recently saw in the Hallmark Movie Second Chances — the one that starred Days of our Lives duo Alison Sweeney and Greg Vaughan. 

A synopsis of the pilot: After writing a hit song, Will Freeman (Walton) was granted a life of free time, free love and freedom from financial woes.  He is single, unemployed and loving it.  But when Fiona (Driver), a needy, single mom and her oddly charming 11-year-old son, Marcus (Stockham), move in next door, his perfect life is about to hit a major snag. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart‘s Al Madrigal also stars and Popular‘s Leslie Bibb guest stars.

Last month, Katims and the About a Boy cast gathered in Pasadena, CA to face writers, reporters and bloggers at the Television Critics Association’s Winter Press Tour. Here’s some of what the creator had to say about his new comedy during the panel:

Photo Credit: Paul Drinkwater/NBC

Photo Credit: Paul Drinkwater/NBC

QUESTION:  Could you talk just a little bit about doing this? Actually, I thought you blew through pretty much the whole movie in 22 minutes. But doing this in 22 minutes as opposed to 44 or whatever.

JASON KATIMS:  I’ve always wanted to do a comedy.  I’ve always wanted to do a half hour.  And I think what’s exciting about the form is that you have to tell these stories in such a streamlined way, and that’s been really great. I mean, the other thing that’s really great for me personally is after doing Parenthood and Friday Night Lights, which are both huge ensembles, this is a very small ensemble and you get to sort of focus on telling one story or maybe one story and a very interrelated B story in an episode. And that’s really very different than what I’ve been doing and really exciting to do that kind of storytelling.

Photo Credit: Chris Haston/NBC

Photo Credit: Chris Haston/NBC

QUESTION:  In the original book written by Nick Hornby, there was so much music in it as it is with all his writings and it was placed in the ’90s.  Obviously the title comes from a Nirvana song, and we saw a bit of the One Direction. Will there be a lot of musical references throughout the show in that way, but in a more modern, pop culture sense? 

JASON:  I love to use music in shows and so we’ll definitely use music. There’s also more since Will is a songwriter of sorts and Minnie is  Fiona, I should say, is a musician, I think there’s going to be opportunity to have more fun with music actually being played in episodes as well, so we look forward to that. But we’ll definitely continue to use music in cuts and use music to help tell our stories.

QUESTION:  For Jason, David’s character just appeared on Parenthood or at least seemed to appear on Parenthood. We’re very curious about this. We’re wondering if this is the start of, like, a Northern California Katims-verse where we can see the two kind of worlds kind of cross on a regular basis. Is that something you see or is that sort of a fun little thing you could do?  

JASON:  I think just because both shows are set in this San Francisco and the Bay Area, it sort of made sense that there would be and because Will is in the world of music and Crosby’s in the world of music, it made sense to me and so that’s why we did the thing of Will being in the poker game.  So it turns out in About a Boy, Will also has his own poker game. And so Dax Shepard will be making an appearance as Crosby Braverman on About a Boy as well.

QUESTION:  In the pilot we see the dynamic which is that Will opens up the world a little bit for [Marcus] and Fiona is cranky and disapproving. Is there going to be alteration in that dynamic where sometimes Fiona gets to be right? 

JASON:  Absolutely.  Yeah, no, absolutely.  I really want the first season of the show to be — while I think every episode will be close-ended and will be sort of a satisfying story that we tell within the episode, I really want this to be a show that the stories evolve and the characters evolve over the season. And so what I’m really interested in seeing as far as Fiona’s character is to watch her as she slowly begins to accept Will’s role in Marcus’ life, so that’s part of it, and also to see many different sides of her and to see that there  it isn’t just about her. Obviously in the pilot, you can’t help it.  It was just like in the story line that she was the antagonist. Why I love doing television is that you’re telling more than one story and those relationships, the relationships between your characters evolve and change over time. So I’m looking forward to seeing many sides of Fiona.

QUESTION:  You blow through what’s arguably the most memorable moment in the book and film with the talent show in the first episode. I’m just wondering if that was just to kind of get it out of the way and then establish, OK, this is our own show from here on out or if there was another purpose behind that. 

JASON:  I thought that I  what we wanted to do was tell the first story in the pilot, and we wanted that to be the first of obviously many. I felt like sort of in adapting it, what we wanted to do was take this — what was so beautiful in the book and in the movie — and something that I felt really  a story that I really loved and honor that and then give us the room to be move forward with telling new stories with sort of making it our own.  So that was kind of what was behind how we structured the pilot.

QUESTION:  Does the dynamic stay the same between these two? I mean, is it still that there’s not a romantic relationship? 

JASON:  Yeah. So what happens is I look at it as a story about a family that will never in their lives admit that they’re a family, that they’re that in a weird way, it sort of takes a little bit of Fiona and a little bit of Will to make the best version of Marcus, but that Will and Fiona will never admit that they need each other to help raise this boy. So I don’t see this becoming between Will and Fiona a romantic relationship anytime soon.

TV Goodness Winter Preview Ratings System
Watch Live
Watch Later on DVR
Undecided — Need to Watch Some More
Not Watching at All

About a Boy is cute, sweet and immensely watchable. I’ve seen the first three episodes and I loved them so consider me on board. I wasn’t always the biggest David Walton fan, but now I am. He’s playing a role that we’ve seen many times before, but he brings his own thing to it. And the relationship his character has with Benjamin Stockham’s Marcus is just so adorably awkward that I’ll be watching. But much like I do everything these days, I’ll Watch Later on my DVR. But not too much later.

About a Boy airs tonight after the Olympics @ 11:05 ET/PT.

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Photo Credit for Following Images: Jordin Althaus/NBC

About A Boy - Season Pilot About A Boy - Season Pilot About A Boy -- Season: Pilot About A Boy - Season Pilot About A Boy - Season Pilot

About A Boy - Season Pilot

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