When it comes to comedies, it usually is hit or miss. Because you can have a great cast, crew, and writers. Yet, if the jokes aren’t working and the laugh isn’t landing then you are just going to end up with a half-baked sitcom. Luckily, this wasn’t the case for NBC’s A.P. Bio. Because the jokes worked, the set up was bizarre enough to be interesting and the cast killed it right from the first episode. Of course, there were some things that could be improved, as it is with every pilot episode. But overall, I really enjoyed every second of A.P. Bio. So here is my full first impression of A.P. Bio.
Background on A.P. Bio
Developed by Mike O’Brien, whose name you might recognize from Saturday Night Live since he worked on the live television show as a writer for seven seasons, A.P. Bio tells the story of Jack Griffin, a disgraced philosophy scholar who is forced to teach high school after he got passed up for his dream job. Although he is hired at Toledo’s Whitlock High School as Advanced Placement Biology teacher, he teaches his students everything but biology. And uses them to get back at his nemesis Miles Leonard, who got his desired position as head of Philosophy at Stanford and is vastly more successful than Jack.
A.P. Bio is executive produced by the likes of Seth Meyers and Lorne Michaels. And the series stars Glenn Howerton as Jack Griffin. Patton Oswalt as the highschool’s principle Ralf Durbin. Mary Sohn, Lyric Lewis, and Jean Villepique as Jack’s fellow teachers Mary, Stef, and Michelle. Tom Bennett as Miles Leonard, Jacks rival. While Jack’s student body is comprised of actors like Jacob McCarthy, Aparna Brielle, Nick Peine, Eddie Leavy, Tucker Albrizzi, Jacob Houston and Spence Moore II, playing Devin, Sarika, Marcus, Anthony, Terry, Victor, and Dan among others.
Like I mentioned before, I really liked the first episode of A.P. Bio. But it was more than just blindly liking a show. Firstly, I liked the unorthodox plot of the show. Yes, it is set in high school, but A.P. Bio by no means is a teen drama. Rather, it uses the school setting to put Jack in an out-of-place situation, which gives opportunity for all those comedic moments to happen.
Secondly, I loved that the show doesn’t take itself too seriously. And that is a good thing because it allows the show’s writers to break the mold of what a show set in a high school should be. And create something that is unapologetic, fun and crazy in the best way possible.
On top of that, I also really liked how realistic the show made the high school look. From the students to Jack’s colleagues, A.P. Bio embraces diversity and sets up its high school to look like a real-life school. Which is an improvement from the often glamorized high school environment that is portrayed on most teen shows.
And lastly, it was also amazing to see how equality funny and involved all the characters were. Often, if a show is about the teachers, then the students are just a tool to make the teacher look a certain way. Yet if the show is about high schoolers, then the teachers usually are there just to move along the storyline. But with A.P. Bio that is not the case. The students in Jack’s class are equally as involved in the story that the show is trying to tell as are the other teachers or Jack himself. Which creates a really nice sense of equality among the characters as well as adds more depth to the show’s plot.
What didn’t work
Among the things that I think could use some improvement was Jack’s character. We see him on the show as this disheveled guy with an I-don’t-care attitude who is supposed to be a philosophy scholar good enough to be considered for a job at Stanford. However, there wasn’t a sliver of that side of the character shown on the pilot episode of A.P. Bio. I realize that the writers are trying to make us understand the fact that this guy is an utter mess. Yet, I would like to see a bit more of the philosophy scholar in Jack. But, of course, that will probably come in next episodes.
And the second thing was the bullying storyline of Dan bullying Devin. There is no doubt that bullying is a very serious issue. And it needs to be talked about and highlighted. Though, I am not sure if it needed to be crammed in the first episode of the show. If it was done just to get Dan to become one of Jack’s students because it will be an important point in a future storyline on A.P. Bio then, by all means, cram it is. However, I would’ve liked to see them set up Jack’s character a bit more in the pilot instead. Like why exactly Jack is teaching highs school. Or how did he come to live in his late mother’s old house? That sort of thing.
I keep saying it in this first impression and I am going to say it again. I utterly loved the first episode of NBC’s A.P. Bio. It was funny, it was crazy and it was charming. But most importantly, it was just quirky enough to make me want to keep coming back to this show week after week. So if you are a fan of fun sitcoms that are goofy, wacky and features real people going funny things, then definitely give A.P. Bio. It will be 20 minutes well spent.