Get us in your inbox

Search
  1. Photograph: NBC
    Photograph: NBC

    Benjamin Stockham as Marcus and David Walton as Will in About a Boy

  2. Photograph: NBC
    Photograph: NBC

    Minnie Driver as Fiona, David Walton as Will and Benjamin Stockham as Marcus in About a Boy

  3. Photograph: NBC
    Photograph: NBC

    Benjamin Stockham as Marcus and David Walton as Will in About a Boy

  4. Photograph: NBC
    Photograph: NBC

    Al Madrigal as Andy and David Walton as Will in About a Boy

  5. Photograph: NBC
    Photograph: NBC

    Benjamin Stockham as Marcus and David Walton as Will Freeman in About a Boy

  6. Photograph: NBC
    Photograph: NBC

    David Walton as Will in About a Boy

  7. Photograph: Jordin Althaus/NBC
    Photograph: Jordin Althaus/NBC

    Benjamin Stockham as Marcus and Minnie Driver as Fiona in About a Boy

  8. Photograph: NBC
    Photograph: NBC

    Benjamin Stockham as Marcus in About a Boy

  9. Photograph: NBC
    Photograph: NBC

    Minnie Driver a Fiona in About a Boy

  10. Photograph: NBC
    Photograph: NBC

    Zach Cregger as TJ, David Walton as Will Freeman and Al Madrigal as Andy in About a Boy

  11. Photograph: NBC
    Photograph: NBC

    Zach Cregger as TJ, Al Madrigal as Andy, David Walton as Will Freeman and Lil Jon as Himself in About a Boy

  12. Photograph
    Photograph

    Benjamin Stockham as Marcus and David Walton as Will Freeman in About a Boy

About a Boy: TV review

This cold adaptation lacks the trademark heart of its creator

Advertising

Premieres after the Olympics on Saturday, February 22 at 10:05pm on NBC. Regular episodes will air Tuesday nights at 8pm.

With his work on Friday Night Lights and Parenthood, producer Jason Katims has established himself as a man who knows how to tug at an audience's heartstrings like none other. With this adaptation of Nick Hornby's novel, Katims steps out of his comfort zone by creating his first sitcom. The result leaves something to be desired.

RECOMMENDED: Winter TV premieres

Like Hornby's novel and the 2002 Oscar-nominated film adaptation, About a Boy follows layabout manchild Will (David Walton). Living fat off the royalties from a Christmas song he wrote with his band years ago, Will doesn't have a job or really any obligations at all. However, as he's gotten older, all of his friends have left him behind—getting married, starting families. Enter Marcus (Benjamin Stockham), the son of his new next-door neighbor Fiona (Minnie Driver). A hopeless outcast at school, Marcus latches onto Will instantly. The bachelor initially resists, then quickly grows close to the boy and forges and unlikely friendship.

About a Boy's first episode is essentially a 23-minute version of the Hugh Grant film transplanted from London to the Bay Area and, with the exception of Driver, who retains her English accent, recast with Americans. While this means that the episode moves along at a good clip, it also means that it constantly draws negative comparisons to its predecessor and, as the series progresses, it never really lives up to its source material.

Will's relationship with Marcus should be, at its heart, sweet. However, without investing any time in Will's development or dealing with regrets he might have for taking advantage of Marcus (which he does, frequently), it often comes off as seedy. Driver's Fiona is woefully underserved by the show, which seems more interested in mocking her for being a vegan than investing in her struggle with depression, which was a touching and funny aspect of the film. The Daily Show's Al Madrigal fills out the cast as Will's lone adult friend (though Walton's drive-by appearance on Parenthood established that Dax Shepard's Crosby is also a buddy), who often has the unpleasant and surprisingly unfunny task of pointing out what a jerk Will is.

Reaching back to his days as a writer on My So-Called Life, Katims has frequently excelled at developing emotional connections between the audience and his characters, but there's a shocking lack of heart in About a Boy. Without his trademark sense of compassion, the show is just a weak comedy about a middle-aged man's inappropriate relationship with a child.

Recommended
    You may also like
      Advertising

      The best things in life are free.

      Get our free newsletter – it’s great.

      Loading animation
      Déjà vu! We already have this email. Try another?

      🙌 Awesome, you're subscribed!

      Thanks for subscribing! Look out for your first newsletter in your inbox soon!