I’m not afraid to say it: Bill Pullman was a magnificent president in the classic 1996 film "Independence Day." So watching him play President Dale Gilchrest in NBC’s new sitcom, "1600 Penn," just feels right. The rest of his family, however, are nuts.
Jenna Elfman plays Pullman’s first lady, Emily Nash Gilchrest. She may be the first lady but she’s not his first wife, which means she’s also step-mom to four crazy kids who don’t really like her that much yet. The oldest and most absent minded son, Skip, who is played by Josh Gad, most recently famous for starring in "The Book of Mormon Musical" on Broadway, has been away to college for seven years and is still just one semester away from graduating. His younger sister, the supposedly perfect daughter, has a not-so-perfect surprise (spoiler alert: she’s pregnant) in store for her parents in the pilot episode. And the youngest son and daughter have their own set of pre-teen problems.
About halfway into the pilot, I wasn’t sure I could handle "1600 Penn" because it was so over the top. I didn’t think I was ready to make fun of the highest office in the land. But I kept watching and realized this show has to be over the top. If "1600 Penn" were realistic, this family wouldn’t be in the White House and the show wouldn’t be funny. When it comes down to it, this show is about a crazy family who happens to live in the White House. If viewers can embrace the ridiculousness, they’ll find themselves laughing.
Truth is, while the show is centered mostly around Skip (Josh Gad), I’d watch "1600 Penn" for Emily Gilchrest (Jenna Elfman) alone. She is genuinely funny, her comedic timing is spot on, she’s prettier than ever and her arms are amazing — like Michelle Obama amazing.
NBC already aired the pilot episode of "1600 Penn" in December after the season finale of "The Voice," so America has already been given a taste of this wacky first family. The full episode is available online at nbc.com, so viewers have a chance to catch up. In my opinion, the show gets funnier with each episode. Give "1600 Penn" at least one chance (or maybe two or three), and be forever grateful this family doesn’t really live in the White House.
"1600 Penn" airs again Thursday, Jan. 10, at 8:30 p.m. MST.