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TV Pilot Preview: NBC's '1600 Penn'

Audience favorites Bill Pullman, Jenna Elfman and Josh Gad lead a strong ensemble cast in this comedy set in The White House. Five things to know about the new NBC comedy that blends political smarts and domestic funny.

1600 Penn Cast PR image - H 2012
Chris Haston/NBC
"1600 Penn"

Politics and sitcoms are no longer strange bedfellows. After the success of HBO's darkly funny Veep, NBC is also jumping into the increasingly popular political arena with 1600 Penn, a domestic comedy set at the most famous address in America.

The Obamas have made life in the White House a subject of interest again and 1600 Penn is poised to capitalize on that popularity. The Hollywood Reporter screened the pilot of 1600 Penn, written by executive producers Josh Gad, former presidential speechwriter Jon Lovett and Emmy-winning director Jason Winer (Modern Family) and has five things to know about the upcoming NBC single-camera comedy series that shows how being the Commander in Chief can clash with being the head of the household.

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1. Gad, fresh off his Broadway success in the multiple Tony-winning sensation Book of Mormon continues his comedy streak as Skip, the well-meaning, bumbling first son who wants to emulate his accomplished dad, but seems to excel only at accidentally lighting things on fire. Ultimately, his innate sweetness and innocence help bond the family together, and he provides a valuable assist to his dad with matters of state too.

2. Winer brings his Modern Family pedigree to this show and his expert touch is in evidence here, striking the right balance between presidential formality and familial warmth. 

3. The show gets its political cred from executive producer Lovett, a former speechwriter for Obama, which informs the show with an intelligent, behind the scenes peek at life in the White House. The combination of political savvy and relatable family situations makes for a fresh take on the sitcom format.

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4. Bill Pullman’s President Gilchrist embodies the type of man Americans want as a leader: a solid family man who prides himself on serving his country, and he’s a guy anyone would want to sit down with for beers at the local bar. He realizes son Skip is far from perfect but he appreciates Skip’s earnestness and loyalty. Jenna Elfman (Dharma & Greg) returns to TV as President Gilchrist’s second wife Emily Nash Gilchrist.  She’s smart and charming but that isn’t enough to win over the president’s kids. That doesn’t stop her from trying, though, and she jumps right in when she sees the kids having problems at home or school.   

5. The strong ensemble cast is rounded out Martha MacIsaac (Superbad) as the tightly wound, ambitious Becca Gilchrist, Andre Holland (Friends With Benefits) as press secretary Marshall Malloy who has the unenviable task of trying to show Skip in a positive light, Amara Miller (The Descendants) and Benjamin Stockham (Sons of Tucson) as the younger siblings.

1600 Penn is from 20th Century Fox Television and will have a midseason premiere on NBC. Watch a trailer below and hit the comments with your thoughts. Will you watch?

Email: diane.gordon@thr.com Twitter: @thesurfreport