This week we are looking at ABC’s canceled sitcom Selfie, starring Karen Gillan and John Cho.
Karen Gillan for 2 1/2 seasons was Doctor Who’s companion Amy Post from 2008-2014, which spanned two doctors (David Tennent and Matt Smith). More recently and perhaps more notably (depending on which universe is bigger: Dr. Who or Marvel) Ms. Gillan was Nebula in Guardians of the Galaxy.
John Cho is best known for his role as Harold in the Harold and Kumar films, as well as having his own stint in the sci-fi world as the new Sulu in the JJ Abrams Star Trek films.
Both actors were excellent choices, they play off each other extremely well, and the chemistry is palpable. Kudos to ABC and Emily Kapnek for strong casting that challenged TV norms, and made John Cho one of TV’s first Asian-American leading men. While we cannot say for certain that Cho’s Henry ends up with Gillan’s Eliza it does seem highly plausible, especially once you see the pilot episode, it would make for one incredible interracial couple!
Selfie was written by veteran writer Emily Kapnek, who also created Suburgatory (2011-2014) and was based heavily on George Bernard Shaw’s play Pygmalion.
“After being the subject of an embarrassing viral video, a self-involved 20-something enlists the help of a marketing expert to revamp her image in the real world.” – Selfie, IMDB.
Pygmalion the play features one Henry Higgens, and English phonetics professor making a bet with the poor, downtrodden cockney-accented Eliza Doolittle that he could transform her into being mistaken for an English duchess at a fancy party. This story has been used several times in Hollywood most famously in My Fair Lady.
The Selfie script does an excellent job of making Eliza Dooley downright unlikable. It was difficult to find any sympathy for her selfish behavior. It was borderline sociopathic. The final show did a great job by removing some of the more harsher, even unnecessary site-gags or “quick-pops” that were written as flashbacks giving visual insights into Eliza’s terrible life. The pilot episode was extremely well done given the material, and it is clear the network poured a lot of money into the production of the first episode. The soundtrack for the first episode included music from the Goo Goo Dolls, MIA and even the cast singing Lady Gaga.
Despite the high polish Selfie script fell victim to some cheap (stereotypical) jokes and ultimately a VERY unlikable, or even easily hated main character. Stand out performances by Di’Vine Joy Randolph who played Char’monique the company receptionist and David Harewood, as Sam Saperstein the boss, whose natural comic timing and sensibility worked well with Cho and Gillan’s characters.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of reviewing the pilot was realizing that the show got a lot better. The show’s story lines were a lot of fun, and they centered around much stronger, fuller characters that in Eliza’s case were more likable. They also introduced Charlie (Matty Cardarople) as Henry’s odd but very funny assistant.
Realizing the show wasn’t going to get past the one season, the writers took the opportunity to accelerate the relationship between the two main characters in a more believable and timely way. Instead of stretching it out over so many episodes Eliza and Henry’s connection developed naturally. That being said, Selfie makes a strong case for giving a show a shot even if the pilot episode had some flaws. #saveselfie #blessed
Script vs Screen Final Grade:
Alex: Script C / Screen B
Jason: Script C- / Screen B
Update: During this podcast episode Alex refers to the “Moonlighting Effect” which was originally thought, based on the demise of the show Moonlighting, that when two main characters finally do get together, it spells disaster for the show, since the will-they-wont-they tension between the two has dissipated. Turns out there were many other issues at play including production issues, and actors not getting along with each other. Read the interesting post: The Moonlighting Argument and why it is total crap!!
Pop Culture News Notes:
Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake #Hashtag sketch
Eddie Murphy’s SNL sketch “Mr. Robinson’s Neighborhood”
Selfie’s new intro music “Looking at Me” (much nicer than the original one used.)
Instagram Vs. Reality – Written and Starring Morgan Owens with Sarah Heinss & Xchel Hernandez.
Fresh Prince of Bel Air – Will Stuck in the Basement