Join us as we review the NBC musical comedy, Perfect Harmony, on The Pilot Podcast. We follow Dr. Arthur Cochran as he supports the Second First Church of the Cumberlands choir. Can he coeach this group of misfits to become singing champions? Also, Anna Camp as Ginny is wonderful.
When former Princeton music professor Arthur Cochran unexpectedly stumbles into choir practice at a small-town church, he finds a group of singers who are out of tune in more ways than one. Despite the ultimate clash of sensibilities, Arthur and his newfound cohorts may just be the perfect mix of individuals to help each other reinvent and rediscover a little happiness, just when they all need it most.
Special thanks to our friend and editor, Ronnie, from Bristol Pod Works
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Welcome to The Pilot Podcast!
Where we watch the pilot episodes of TV shows and recap other shows to answer your question: Should I watch this?
My name is BJ
And my name is Mitu.
And this week we're checking out the new NBC musical comedy, Perfect Harmony.
So stay tuned to the end to see if I can get BJ to sing us a little ditty.
Beej, stop spoiling my stay tuned to the ends.
I just wanted to make that clear. I'm not going to sing.
But you used to be a singer in your youth.
Past tense. Correct.
Benfeard Williams 0:41
The past is behind us. Let's move to the future and discuss Perfect Harmony where we can listen to other people sing.
All right. I was trying to be your Sister Mary Clarence,
Why don't you sing?
I'm not a good singer. All right, BJ what happened in this first episode of Perfect Harmony?
So we're introduced to Arthur Cochran, and he is a depressed music teacher, who actually starts the episode attempting to end his own life. But in that process, he overhears bad singing from some people nearby. And this like triggers his inner music teacher. And so he goes in to meet the choir of the Second First Church of the Cumberlands. And there he meets characters, such as Ginny, who wants to recruit him because he automatically starts correcting people with their posture, their technique, the way they're pronouncing words, and it's actually helping them improve even in that first interaction. And so he wants to help this choir win in a competition against another choir when he learned that the competition is being led by a pastor of a mega church in this small Kentucky town. And this mega church actually denied his wife's wish of being buried there, because she used to live in this town. And while helping the choir, kind of develop their skills and also helping some people express their feelings towards others, he ends up insulting and hurting everyone. And so they decided they don't want Arthur's help anymore. But in your typical sitcom fashion, everyone brings it back together. They make amends, they apologize. Also learned that Jenny son is dyslexic, and then they enter the competition with a really cool performance. You'll need to watch to find out what song they choose. And in the end, they all come together kind of like a family. What did you think of this pilot?
So I think this is one of those pilots that is finding its footing because the bones were there for a fabulous show. But this first episode to me wasn't as funny as I think it could have been. But Bradley Whitford is fantastic in leading this show. You'll recognize him of course from West Wing from Get Out from being the guy who literally said he would vote Obama for a third term in and out of Get Out. He is so great as the former music department chair at Princeton, who is ornery about the sensitivity of the people whom he tries to teach to sing better.
How do you feel about his fish out of water performance is this kind of city guy now in the south?
We've talked about this a lot. A lot of the shows we've been reviewing recently have talked about the South or have been set there. I would say that I'm getting a little tired of how the South has been portrayed on the shows that we're watching. I know I did not grow up in a town like that. I know you didn't either Beej, but he certainly delivers on that fish out of water. And the one thing that they always stress on these sorts of shows about the South is the heart of the people, which is legitimate, I think Southern people are better than everyone else. And you can really feel the heart in each of these characters. So even if it wasn't as funny as it could be, they really sell that coming together as a family and you just feel how close they are and how close they're going to become as the show progresses.
I'd agree that the relationships that they're building and have shown are definitely believable, and it even makes sense in the context of the show and how they interact with Arthur. I will say though, just as a comment on the portrayal of the South, it's a little odd that they are combining southern hospitality and quote unquote, "good Christian behavior" as the same thing.
And I know all our main characters are associated with churches, but there is a distinction between people in the South just being nice and then a Christian being nice.
Yeah, obviously because it's a show about a choir, it has a religious bend to it. But that's true. Kind Southern culture exists outside of religion. That's a nice lesson, BJ, everybody can be nice, whether you're Christian or not.
Just so long as you're from the South.
Yeah, as long as you check off that one box.
You can be nice. And remember, if you go to the South, someone legitimately might offer you the last biscuit in the diner.
That does become a theme of the first episode.
I'll be honest, though, those biscuits didn't look that fluffy.
They looked dry. They looked like hockey pucks.
So some other topics that we noticed. Besides the portrayal of the South is like a lot of comedy series this fall, it's presenting a lot of dark topics.
This show literally begins with a potentially attempted suicide. It includes themes of divorce, unrequited love, learning disabilities, bullying, but it finds humor in all of those things, or at least attempts to. And I wonder if that's a reaction to our culture that a lot of sitcoms are trying to show that you can find humor in darker times. But it is dark, I don't think I've ever seen a sitcom open with an attempted suicide.
It was a very bold choice for the opening scene of a comedy. And I would agree that I think nowadays comedies might be a popular medium for these messages. At the end of the day, everyone likes laughing. And that might be the only way to get people to think about these things. Because if it's too dramatic and heavy and sad, they're not going to be as interested.
And I will say that more conversations about mental health, especially about suicide are super needed in larger conversation. There is this theory that if you talk about suicide, it leads to suicide. And that's not the case as long as you're smart about how you're presenting the topic. I think they had a lot of opportunity here to maybe show him getting some help. Because getting to that point, you should consider seeking help after. I hope this show takes advantage and starts to talk about mental health a bit, but it is very necessary for us all to talk about it. And also, if you or someone you know is struggling, you can text home to 741741. That's the number for the Crisis Text Line. Or you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Help is out there.
So I'm actually really surprised that they didn't provide information like those resources at the end of the episode, like a PSA of sorts.
Yeah, because something like 25% of people, I believe, report that they experience issues with their mental health. These issues start presenting as young as in your adolescence. And so if you see someone struggling, please reach out to them. And if you yourself are struggling, please reach out. You're not alone.
So going back to more lighthearted aspects of the show, just so we can make this a positive episode.
It is positive to talk about your mental health, but I agree.
It's positive, but it's heavy.
True. Let's get into the rest of the show the music: fabulous. BJ, you are our resident musicals expert. How did you feel about the music in this episode?
I don't want that title. And there were actually some surprisingly good singers with a diverse range of voices in modern music and also musicals. There's very specific voice styles and tones that you typically hear. And this cast broad in that range. There is Ginny played by Anna Camp. A lot of people will probably recognize her singing voice from the Pitch Perfect movies. She has a very like a very high voice and I was wondering if she would choose to do that on purpose, but I think it is just her natural singing voice. There's also Dwayne who is actually a potential love interest for Ginny and he has a super deep voice and I think that's actually a voice that you don't hear a lot especially in modern music and also in musicals because they're usually aren't that many part written for such deep voices.
When I looked him up on IMDB because I had to know the man behind the voice. Geno Segers, I believe is how you pronounce his name, he is listed as a voice artist and I can't see a better job for someone with that voice. It is mesmerizing.
It's very captivating, distinct, powerful. Even Bradley Whitford's character when he was commenting on people's voices - he was like you have such a strong voice like you're always going to be heard you are loud and powerful. And that's not something you can say about everyone's vocal abilities.
No we can't all be Elizabeth Holmes.
What does she sound like?
[Both Laugh] I'm not going to do her voice. Listeners, I recently discovered Elizabeth Holmes' voice and I can't stop trying to impersonate it. I strongly suggest Bad Blood to you all. Whew! What a journey. What a voice. What a scam.
Did you like the musical numbers in the competition portion of the episode?
Yeah, I'm surprised by how much I liked them, actually. I am not a big fan of musicals. But I thought that the tribute that they did with the mashup at the end was really beautiful. And I don't want to spoil it, but there's so much meaning behind it. And that actually is the moment that sold me on the heart that this show has, especially showing the love between the characters.
Interesting. So I actually had more of an opposite reaction.
And they even comment on this. It was very much a Glee esque performance.
And Glee has also done one of the songs they incorporate in their mashup. And so it wasn't as captivating. I think it was a good performance. But that song choice and using like a Glee type mashup didn't impress me as much as it could have if it was something more original.
Wow. It's always tough when we disagree. And we've been agreeing so much in these reviews. But honestly, if you watch the episode and listen to the dialogue leading up to it, there's a couple callbacks in the choice of the song and how they performed. I just loved that because in the framing of the show, they didn't have to pick significant music that could have just done a regular choir song. And they didn't. And so I really liked that choice. But yes, of course, it was very Glee and very heavy-handed. But I like that the show knows what it is.
Yes, this the song choice, the performance, it all ties in with the characters, the personalities, the storyline, this community that's building up around Arthur, so it makes sense, and it was a good performance.
I agree. And special shout out to Tymberlee Hill, who plays Adams on Perfect Harmony. She is a really fabulous comedian, and I didn't know she could sing and she is on a show that I would strongly recommend to our listeners called The Hot Wives of Orlando. And it's on Hulu. It's very funny. There's Hot Wives of Orlando and the second season is Hot Wives of Las Vegas. It's like a parody Real Housewives show and it also stars a bunch of other comedians that you would recognize and Angela from The Office.
So what did you think of Ginny's storylines? Because next to Arthur, she's kind of like our second protagonist, and I think she gets the most development next to Arthur.
Yes, I'm excited to see Ginny turn into more of a boss. So she is seemingly the leader of her little group of friends who spearheads initially getting Arthur to help them with their music. But we see that in her personal life. she struggles to be the boss of her life and be confrontational and do things like finalize her divorce from her estranged husband. And I'm excited to see that boss come out. It came out a little bit toward the end of the episode of course, as you would expect in the arc of a sitcom, but I'm excited to see all the different ways she'll show that queen side of her as the season progresses.
And I think her son Cash is a pretty interesting character. I didn't think they were going to give him as many lines and as much involvement [as the] in the plot as they did. And I kind of like the relationship he might develop with Arthur kind of is like a grandfather, uncle type of figure.
I agree. Usually, when you see a fat child on a show, they turn that kid into some kind of bumbling idiot or bully. And it's really messed up, especially because this is presumably a family show. And a lot of these shows are family shows that kids could watch. And some fat kid could see it and think, Oh, this is who I am. Or this is my representation. And so I love that they offer layers to his character. He's not just this bumbling Southern idiot fat boy and instead he has layers and is a more fully realized human like we all are. So I actually really liked that because I thought they were going to go cheap with it and that is how it felt in the beginning and then they did it.
Any other characters that stood out to you.
I'm excited to see Rizwan Manji get on another show. He is Reverend Jax on Perfect Harmony. I hope that he gets centered sometime on a show because he's the funny guy on Perfect Harmony, he's the funny guy on Schitt's Creek. I think he's in a number of other roles where he plays a similar character and I hope that he gets to have his star shine a bit brighter.
Yeah, I don't think they gave him enough in this episode, which is understandable. He's not the lead and there's a lot of plot to set up a lot. Based on the pilot alone, I am worried that his character probably the most out of everyone in the Second First Church of the Cumberland choir is the most one dimensional.
So how about we head into our final ratings for Perfect Harmony on NBC? What would you give it Mitu?
I would give Perfect Harmony a "would watch a couple more episodes to see if it gets funnier." This was the same review I gave for Sunnyside. For both shows, I see a very similar pattern of really great cast, the bones are there for it to be a great show with a lot of heart and the leads are fabulous. But this pilot episode was not great to me. It was funny, but I don't think it was as funny as it could have been. So I'm going to give it a couple more episodes and I would recommend to our listeners to do the same to see if it picks up. And I firmly anticipate that it will.
I agree I think this show will have an upward trajectory with its quality and storyline. However for me, I would put it as a "would watch while doing laundry." I think I would have it on in the background, see a few funny moments, heartwarming moments, see what the musical number is at the end of the episode or maybe even fast forward to the end of the episode if necessary.
Oh, you're all about the songs.
Isn't that the point of a musical comedy like Glee? People just listen to the music sometime.
Really? I used to fast forward.
Through the songs?
That's like the opposite of what the entire world did.
Are you seri-? No, seriously?
You'll find YouTube clips and Hulu clips of just the musical performances.
I showed up for the jokes. [Both laugh] You know I don't like musicals.
That has become very clear. You really cut that musical comedy in two pieces.
I did the same thing when I watched Tyler Perry plays because those songs go for entirely too long.
Those are long songs.
Long! So I fast forward them.
Well, you listeners learn some more about Mitu's dislike of musicals, but it's not going to stop her from giving Perfect Harmony a chance.
For sure. If it's one song at the end, I'm fine.
That's your limit?
I think for my fellow non musicals people this show is not bad. It's not like a classic musical movie or show where someone's like, I want a cup of coffee, coffee, coffee and then that leads into a song. It's not that bad. It's just when you would expect songs to show up which is what bothers me about musicals. It's not the right time.
The music in the show is literally a choir rehearsing, a choir performing.
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Transcribed by https://otter.ai