NBC must have confidence in its new First Family farce, 1600 Penn. The network is using what should be a highly trafficked spot after the final Monday performance show of The Voice to give this sitcom a sneak preview.
Of course, NBC also used the Olympics to launch Animal Practice, and we know how that turned out.
The concept of 1600 Penn is easy to grasp: It's Tommy Boy set in the White House. Josh Gad gets the Chris Farley role as the hefty, disaster-prone scion whose giddy enthusiasm always gets the better of him. (Gad even seems to have inherited Farley's three-sizes-too-small wardrobe.)
The silly misadventures of Gad's character Skip wouldn't attract much attention, except his father, Dale Gilchrist (played by Bill Pullman) is the president. So the world is watching Skip's every pratfall.
And that means that the White House press secretary (Andre Holland) is in constant crisis management mode.
The rest of the Gilchirst family is composed of overachieving straight-arrow Becca (Martha Mac Isaac), blunt younger daughter Marigold (Amara Miller), and brainy little Xander (Benjamin Stockham).
The First Lady (Jenna Elfman) is the president's second wife and still trying desperately to win her stepchildrens' approval. Elfman, the Dharma and Greg vet, does a thoroughly winning job with this tricky and potentially unflattering role.
Gad (Broadway's Book of Mormon) carries the show and a good portion of the credits. He's listed as one of 1600 Penn's co-creators and executive producers.
He gives an energetic, almost frantic, performance as Skip, an 8-year-old boy trapped in a sumo wrestler's body. The sitcom formula dictates that at the end of 23 minutes, one of his crazy crusades will actually pay unexpected dividends.
Another of 1600's cocreators is Jon Lovett, a former speechwriter for President Obama. Not that there's a shred of inside-the-big-tent detail in these scripts.
This is a White House with a large outdoor pool and cabana on the grounds - not to mention a tennis ampitheater. And the president is apt to discuss intimate family issues at length with the Joint Chiefs in the bunkered Situation Room.
NBC uses its own personalities, such as Joe Scarborough, Jay Leno, and Willie Geist to create fake TV coverage of the Gilchrist family's travails.
1600 Penn has the unfortunate habit of milking every joke, even the most artificial and obvious ones. And its absurdist humor is hit-or-miss at best.
And yet it has an undeniable charm, however superficial and ingratiating. Like Skip, the show is goofy, almost unbearably so at times. But it's still somehow likable.