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Published: Thursday, 8/15/2013 - Updated: 11 months ago

TELEVISION

Can ABC’s ‘Super Fun Night’ live up to its namesake?

BY BY ROB OWEN
BLOCK NEWS ALLIANCE
Australian actress Rebel Wilson stars in the new ABC comedy 'Super Fun Night.' Australian actress Rebel Wilson stars in the new ABC comedy 'Super Fun Night.'
ASSOCIATED PRESS Enlarge

Sometimes networks are eager to make a star out of a particular piece of talent. CBS’s infatuation with Simon Baker — first in The Guardian and then in The Mentalist — and later with Alex O’Loughlin — first in Moonlight and Three Rivers before Hawaii Five-0 — are just two examples.

It’s certainly understandable that ABC would want to make a star out of Rebel Wilson, who stole the movie Pitch Perfect after a memorable, smaller role in Bridesmaids.

But ABC’s Super Fun Night (9:30 p.m. Oct. 2) has an incredibly limited amount of fun in its pilot episode. Like so many comedies this fall, it’s occasionally amusing but rarely outright funny.

But that’s not the show’s only problem.

Wilson, who is Australian, attempts to use an American accent in Super Fun Night. but it is super-inconsistent. This seems to be a recurring problem in prime time for some actors of foreign origin. Diane Kruger in The Bridge and Hannah Ware in Boss and this fall’s ABC drama Betrayal also can’t manage to keep their American accents from faltering.

Wilson said Super Fun Night was inspired by Friday nights with her sister, who worked in a candy factory and would bring home scraps and they’d spend Friday nights watching DVDs and eating candy. And it was Wilson’s call to play an American rather than an Australian transplant.

’’I started out in theater as an actress doing characters of all different accents,” she said. “When I first started doing movies, I thought I’d play Americans all the time. So when I had the opportunity to do this TV show and the American concept of three girls living together in Manhattan, I just really thought I had to make this character American.”

Think again, Rebel, think again.

Super Fun Night was originally shot a year ago as a multi-cam CBS pilot shot in front of a studio audience. ABC’s version is a single-camera comedy, which executive producer Conan O’Brien said he prefers.

’’It can give you much more control,” he said. “It can be very broad, but what I love most about Rebel, next to her vulnerability, is her range, but then she makes these small little faces that I think are caught brilliantly in single camera. It’s a much better format.”

O’Brien said his job is mostly limited to helping Wilson.

’’No one wants to hear my stories about what it’s like to be a young woman in the city,” he said. “I don’t like insane coincidences. What I want is a show that gives you pure Rebel — vulnerable and naturally, extremely funny, and very much herself. My job most of the time is to stay out of the way.”

Meet ‘The Goldbergs’

ABC’s The Goldbergs (9 p.m. Sept. 24), told through the lens of a video-camera-toting pre-teen son, has the potential to be a hit — if it doesn’t give viewers headaches.

Based on the childhood of executive producer Adam Goldberg (Breaking In), the Goldbergs have a tendency to yell. A lot. Probably too much in a pilot that’s otherwise sweet and nostalgic.

Jeff Garlin (Curb Your Enthusiasm) stars as the voluble family patriarch. He defended the show’s sound level.

’’There are a couple quiet moments. Did you ever watch Seinfeld?” Garlin said. “Yelling’s good, yelling is funny. When it became annoying I’ll stop and I’ll be the first to notice. Until then, I’ll yell.”

Goldberg said his real-life family, who are featured in the pilot’s end credits, is fine with him cherry-picking from their life, even his brother, who became a sister for The Goldbergs.

’’His only issue is he does not run like a tool. He wanted everyone to know that,” Goldberg said. “My mom was most excited. This just validated everything she ever did.”

Some viewers are sure to see some similarities to The Wonder Years — albeit instead of an ’80s-’90s show looking back at the ’60s, this is a 2010s show looking back on the ’80s — which producers used as part of their pitch for the show to ABC.

’’Enough time has gone by that you look at it fondly,” said executive producer Doug Robinson. “I think what’s old becomes new again. Every 25 years people are ready to look back.”

‘Wonderland’ adventure

ABC’s Once Upon a Time gets a spinoff this fall with Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (8 p.m. Oct. 10), following the adventures of Alice (Sophie Lowe) in Wonderland.

Originally developed as a limited series to air in the winter while Once Upon a Time is on hiatus, Wonderland is now airing its 13 episodes in the fall, and, in success, could return for more episodes in the spring.

’’We were looking to build a block of power women to drive through Thursday,” said ABC Entertainment President Paul Lee. “She is a truly kick-ass Alice. They have created a very, very interesting story, and as we started to go down that rabbit hole it was a rabbit hole we wanted to go down for the fall season.”



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