Tag Archives: Skylar Astin

Ground Floor hosts a pitch-perfect mini-reunion

Red-hot actress Anna Camp guest stars on this Thursday's episode of the TBS sitcom 'Ground Floor.'

Former ‘Pitch Perfect’ castmates Anna Camp and Skylar Astin reunite in this Thursday’s episode of ‘Ground Floor’ on TBS.

I really liked the new TBS sitcom Ground Floor when I reviewed it here a few weeks ago, and this new romantic comedy from Bill Lawrence (Scrubs, Cougar Town) has only gotten better since then. The first-rate ensemble has settled confidently into their roles, and the delightful chemistry between Skylar Astin (as ambitious money manager Brody Moyer) and dazzling newcomer Briga Heelan (as building service worker Jenny Miller) is starting to look like Sam-and-Diane for the new millennium.
If you haven’t checked out Ground Floor yet, let me warmly recommend that you catch a new episode airing the day after Christmas that is, in effect, a mini-reunion for stars of the hit movie comedy Pitch Perfect. Astin starred in that movie as Jesse, a featured singer for The Treblemakers, a male a cappella chorus. His Ground Floor castmate Alexis Knapp, who plays free-spirited Tori, also was in Pitch Perfect as Stacie, a hard-partying member of the Barden Bellas, the chief rivals of Astin’s group).
This Thursday’s episode opens as Remington Trust CEO Remington Mansfield (John C. McGinley) assembles his all-male staff to announce that their office has made a Forbes 100 list … of the worst places for a woman to work. Determined to set things right, Mansfield announces the first of what he says will be many new female hires: Heather Doyle (Anna Camp), a highly regarded graduate of Harvard Business School, Brody’s alma mater. There’s just one complication: Heather is Brody’s ex-lover from their college years, and her arrival has the unusually unflappable Jenny worried about how she can compete with a beautiful, sexy woman who also talks the same talk and shares the same career passions as Brody.
I doubt you’ll need reminding, but Camp – who also is dating Astin in real life – starred in Pitch Perfect as Aubrey, the tightly wound leader of the Barden Bellas who looked spectacular and sang formidably, but unfortunately tended to projectile-vomit anytime she got too upset. This South Carolina-born actress has been on a sizzling career streak since breaking out in The Help as one of Bryce Dallas Howard’s snooty socialite friends. Since then, she has played lusty, vampire-hating fundamentalist preacher’s wife Sarah Newlin in True Blood and beautiful but brainy law associate Caitlin D’Arcy in The Good Wife, among many other high-profile roles.
Add Heather to that list, because Camp is a comic whirlwind in this episode, a grinning female barracuda determined to annihilate anyone who gets between her and whatever she wants, even trying to dominate karaoke night at a local club. Executive producer Lawrence says that if viewers cotton to Camp’s character, Heather may resurface in future episodes. Fingers crossed, because she’s absolutely terrific.
Anna Camp (center) guest stars with 'Pitch Perfect' castmate Skylar Astin in this week's episode of 'Ground Floor' on TBS.

A tense romantic triangle develops between (from left) Jenny (Briga Heelan), Heather (guest star Anna Camp) and Brody (Skylar Astin) in this week’s ‘Ground Floor.’

TBS’ new ‘Ground Floor’: Take my laugh track, please

The promising workplace sitcom 'Ground Floor' with John C. McGinley and Skylar Astin (from left) premieres tonight on TBS.

John C. McGinley and Skylar Astin (from left) star in ‘Ground Floor,’ a promising TBS workplace comedy from ‘Scrubs’ creator Bill Lawrence.

Ground Floor, a promising new TBS sitcom premiering tonight, has enough things going for it that I almost feel churlish bringing up its one major drawback. Fortunately, that liability is something that would seem easily fixable, so let’s start with the good stuff.
This new workplace comedy comes from executive producer Bill Lawrence (Scrubs, Cougar Town), who co-wrote the pilot but apparently is not directly involved with the show on a weekly basis. Skylar Astin (Pitch Perfect) stars as Brody Moyer, an Ivy League graduate working as a money manager at Remington Trust, a San Francisco investment company run by the very intimidating Remington Mansfield (Scrubs alumnus John C. McGinley). A self-made success story, Mansfield firmly believes that guys like Brody should spend their first couple of post-college decades busting their hump on the job and save the personal rewards like love and family for their post-40 years.
Needless to say, Mansfield isn’t happy when Brody, his unofficial protégé, falls hard for Jenny Miller (vivacious newcomer Briga Heelan), who works on the ground floor as part of the building service staff. Jenny is, Mansfield sternly warns Brody, a “life-unraveller,” the kind of woman who will seduce Brody into unproductive self-analysis and make him question his priorities.
And he’s right. Brody, an insecure metrosexual, is completely nonplussed that Jenny, after a mutually satisfying one-night fling with him, doesn’t seem impressed with his upwardly mobile status (maybe it was the way she gave him a high-five at the end of their night together). In fact, Jenny is in most respects more of a “dude” than Brody is, and he’s especially uncomfortable that she seems to be interested in him only for recreational sex.
“Talking to her is like drinking tequila,” he complains to his boss. “One second you think you’re totally in control, and then the next thing you know, you wake up naked in the yard and your mom keeps saying that you have ruined Christmas.”
Adding to the comic tension is Mark “Harvard” Shrake (Rory Scovel), Jenny’s bearded first-floor colleague who transparently harbors a crush on her and jealously refers to Brody as one of “the soulless upstairs tools.” (To be fair, apart from Brody and Mansfield, Harvard is pretty much spot-on in this assessment).
As with Lawrence’s two other well-known sitcoms, Ground Floor is blessed with a strong ensemble cast playing characters that pop. At first glance, McGinley is doing a reprise of his Dr. Perry Cox on Scrubs, but the actor has found a way to take some of the harder edges off that character without becoming sentimental. That makes for a nice mentoring chemistry with Astin, who likewise strikes some engaging romantic sparks with Heelan. As Harvard, Scovel lands some of the biggest laughs in the first four episodes TBS sent out for review and may emerge as the show’s breakout star.
When I say “the biggest laughs,” I’m referring to my own response, not those on the maddeningly intrusive laugh track. Unlike Scrubs and Cougar Town, both single-camera shows that didn’t/don’t film in front of a studio audience, Ground Floor is done in the old-school multi-camera style. As heard on the review episodes I checked, however, the laughter doesn’t sound remotely like the spontaneous response of an enthusiastic audience. It sounds canned, with nearly every line in the show – and trust me, I do mean nearly every line in the show – getting identical-sized guffaws. There are indeed several very funny lines in Ground Floor, but hearing raucous laughter following lines that I’m not even sure the writers intended to be real jokes eventually starts to suck the comedy out of the good stuff.
TBS mailed out those review episodes a few weeks ago, so I’ve got my fingers crossed that the obviously artificial laughter was a temporary track that subsequently was adjusted for broadcast. Ground Floor is written and performed by some pros who clearly know what they’re doing. Artificially enhancing the laughter is an insult both to them and their audience.
Rory Scovel, Skylar Astin and Briga Heelan (from left) star in the new TBS sitcom 'Ground Floor.'

Harvard (Rory Scovel, left) gets jealous when his co-worker Jenny (Briga Heelan) embarks on a relationship with Brody (Skylar Astin) in ‘Ground Floor.’