Season 1, Episode 1
Date of airing: September 26, 2019 (NBC)
Nielsen ratings information: 2.627 million viewers, 1.7/3 in Households, 0.681 million viewers and 0.5/2 with Adults 18-49, 0.2/1 with Adults 18-34, 0.7/3 with Adults 25-54
In which Bradley Whitford stars in a show that is essentially a mixture of GLEE and SISTER ACT, just in case you needed to know which two previous Hollywood projects this show resembles. I don’t like GLEE that much, since it crashed and faltered halfway through its second season, which I never bothered finishing, even though I adored and was obsessed with its first season, but I am a huge fan of SISTER ACT, so when Disney+ comes around, all I want is either a remake, a revival or a continuation (news has it as a remake). PERFECT HARMONY seems good enough to kill time until that happens, because the show had a charming cast and some good comedy to make me chuckle, even if the pilot happened to have a story that was told on speed and crack and steroids, all at the same time. And let’s not forget that Arthur Cochran started off the show as a suicidal alcoholic who could not live without his wife any longer, which is a whole ‘nother part of the show the writers have gotten into here, but because the suicidal aspect is not for single-camera comedies, it was pretty much dropped right after Arthur’s car was towed. I assume we will never hear of his suicidal thoughts ever again and the only thing that will remind the viewers of how the show started was that he’s missing his wife, and essentially teaching the Second First Church of the Cumberlands (that name is a joke, right? Because I don’t quite understand that joke) is his way to get back to life and enjoy it while also getting over the death of his wife and the end of his first life.
The story on drugs was however the biggest problem of these 21 minutes and 30 seconds. Arthur went from a suicidal man to a first-time choir instructor and teacher to a man who just wanted to take revenge on an asshole who denied him a graveyard to a man hated by his choir to a man who figured out that a kid has dyslexia to a man who brought his choir through a singing competition, which they promptly lost and got reimbursed by a sorry award that at least acknowledged the choir’s talents. On GLEE, the road to the sectionals at least took half a season, and the regionals were slated during the season finale, while SISTER ACT didn’t have much of a singing competition at all during the musical climax of both films (fun fact: I love the sequel more than I do the original film, and that might be because of the soft DANGEROUS MINDS side premise of said sequel, which I appreciated more than a fake nun running from mobsters), but on PERFECT HARMONY, it didn’t take the characters more than 19 minutes to get to their first singing competition, proving that this show is about music and about joining the typical church choir shows with today’s and yesterday’s pop and rock songs, because that is how you get to entertain the broadcast network audience. No one likes to listen to church songs, they want to be entertained with Journey or Led Zeppelin or Red Hot Chili Peppers or Lizzo. In a way, speeding straight to the first singing competition at the end of the episode only told the audience what the music will be about on this show, which means the singing competition was useless as a plot device and only helped to establish the show’s sound, look and feel.
At least the cast looks great. Bradley Whitford is always a delight, so I’m glad he didn’t turn into a politician after the 2016 presidential election and instead decided to co-star in one of 2017’s hottest Hollywood films. Anna Camp is also a delight, and after the PITCH PERFECT series I always wanted to see her in another musical-type project. Seeing these two people join forces for a church choir musical half hour comedy gives me just a little bit of joy, even if I can’t get anything out of the story, let alone the other characters of the bunch who kind of remained nameless for me (except Wayne and Dwayne, but this only having been a 21-minute episode with an ensemble cast, I kind of can’t keep them apart). Here is to hoping that upcoming episodes will focus on the characters here and there and manage to be a television show that goes beyond the church music or Arthur’s Grinch-like behavior. Especially the latter could quickly turn into a serious problem for the show if not handled properly by the writers, as Arthur’s behavior could definitely turn out to be an annoyance. That already alienated me from the Matthew Perry vehicle GO ON after just one episode, which might be the biggest reason why that show failed (but can anyone even remember the show existed to begin with?).
In retrospect, this episode didn’t have anything more to offer than two beloved actors, as well as the pairing of premises of a musical television show from Ryan Murphy and a musical Hollywood comedy starring Whoopi Goldberg. It’s a pairing I won’t mind watching on a weekly basis, but if the writers can’t get into character development or reasons why PERFECT HARMONY should exist beyond its status as a church musical comedy series, then Whitford can certainly think again about running for office next year and Camp will have to talk to her agents and managers about turning PITCH PERFECT into a series. Preferably on a streaming service.