Pilot Review: ‘A to Z’

Maia Zewert

It’s always hard to judge a show based on the pilot alone.

In some cases, a pilot can be pretty indicative of what the show will become. The first episode of Fox’s “Dads” was one of the most insulting things I have seen on television in my life, and the rest of the episodes weren’t that different. In the same vein, “Breaking Bad” had a phenomenal pilot and it continued that success into its final season when it won five Emmys.

“A to Z,” NBC’s new rom-com/sitcom, does not fall into either camp.

Starring Ben Feldman of “Mad Men” and Cristin Milioti “How I Met Your Mother,” “A to Z” follows the story of Andrew and Zelda during their eight month, three week, five day and one hour relationship. Presumably, each episode will be based around a different episode of the alphabet, the pilot being “A is for Acquaintances.” In addition to supporting players Henry Zebrowski and Lenora Crichlow, the series is narrated by Katey Sagal.

It makes sense that this is the first television role Milioti took on after “How I Met Your Mother” because there are times in which Andrew feels like a poor man’s Ted Mosby. After a predictable meet-cute in Andrew’s office, Andrew spends most of the rest of the episode trying to convince Zelda that the two actually saw each other for the first time years ago at a concert and it’s destiny that they’re finally meeting. He actually even asks some of his co-workers, “Do you believe in the one?” which is directly lifted from Ted’s dialogue.

More “How I Met Your Mother” comparisons abound due to the fact that the show itself is a gimmick. As viewers, we know the relationship between Andrew and Zelda will only last eight months, three weeks, five days and one hour, but we don’t know what will happen at the end of that time. Will they break up? Will they get married? Will the writers be able to craft a satisfying answer for the audience?

That said, being compared to “How I Met Your Mother” is not a bad thing. In fact, Zelda also feels like an extension of Milioti’s character from “How I Met Your Mother.” She’s quirky, she likes themed costume parties and she’s a lawyer who appreciates good puns. In one memorable cutaway, she tells the jury that her clients — a trio of nuns — are innocent, saying the evidence is in black and white. Feldman’s great and all, but I believe it’ll be Milioti who is bringing in the audience.

Overall, I think this is a solid effort by NBC. The characters are likable enough for a first episode and that will only improve as the actors continue to grow more comfortable with each other. The use of cutaways and Sagal’s voiceovers are currently working for the show and will continue to do so if they aren’t overused. I do hope the writers tone down the sugary sweetness of the pilot, unless they want the viewers to end up with cavities by the end of the episode run.

Bottom Line: If you liked “How I Met Your Mother,” give “A to Z” a chance.


“A to Z” premieres on NBC at 8:30 p.m. Oct. 2. The pilot is currently available on NBC’s website ahead of the premiere.