Friday, July 5, 2013


Article first published as Game Over For THE GOODWIN GAMES on TheTVKing.

FOX's The Goodwin Games brings their brief, seven episode run to a close this week with "The Box." Although very funny and sweet, the series by How I Met Your Mother creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas was basically given a vote of no confidence by FOX, placed on the summer schedule to be burnt off. Thus, before it even began airing, the show was doomed.

The Goodwin Games boasts an awesome cast. Ugly Betty's Becki Newton, Scandal's Scott Foley, and Cloverfield's T.J. Miller play three siblings named Chloe, Henry, and Jimmy Goodwin, respectively. When their father (Beau Bridges) passes away, he leaves them a series of challenges to complete in order to get his sizable (and previously secret) inheritance. The "Goodwin Games" are designed to let the adult brothers and sister reconnected with each other and themselves, righting the wrong paths they are all on.

From the beginning, I was a little skeptical of Miller alongside the other two, who were already beloved and respected. But as the weeks went by, he proved he could hang at their level, too, eliciting some of the biggest laughs of the show. Each have their own foibles and idiosyncrasies, but when they combine, they are strong, able to better help fix each other than themselves. Not to mention, hilarious.

In the series finale, which doesn't feel a lot like a series finale, all end up some degree above where they begin. Henry is forced to take time off work by his boss (Laurie Metcalf), meaning he will finally spend some time with the other two, as previously his mind is frequently elsewhere, and he is commuting two hours each way to his job as a surgeon. This also lets him relax enough to reconnect with his ex, Lucinda (Kat Foster), and discover that they didn't need to break up after all.

Henry is uptight and fancies himself better than others and his hometown. Even though we don't get to see his continued growth, "The Box" shows us the turning point, when he shifts his energies and begins to open his eyes. We know he will continue on this journey, and while there may be twists along the way, he is going to get back with Lucinda, the right woman for him, unlike his current and unseen fiance, and he'll come to see there is more to life than being the best surgeon he can be.

Chloe, meanwhile, gives up her dreams of being an actress, returns to college, and falls for a childhood pal named Ivan (Adam Rodriguez, CSI: Miami). Her plot is about bursting her bubble, too, like Henry's, although she isn't any good at what she is doing, unlike him and his career. Instead, she has been wasting her talents, namely her brilliance in mathematics, and now she can begin to put them to good use.

There is clearly opportunity here for a swap between Chloe and Henry down the road, with Chloe becoming driven in her field, and Henry growing too complacent and directionless after a break. It's a crying shame we won't get to see that develop.

Jimmy has to prove himself responsible for his daughter, Piper (Kaitlyn Maher). "The Box" doesn't really address this, but shortly before the last episode, Jimmy gets a rude awakening when he realizes that Piper's mother (Janina Gavankar, True Blood, The League) is right, he isn't a good influence on Piper. So he sets off to find a job and become stable so that he can be in Piper's life.

I like that Jimmy and Piper aren't able to reconnect so easily, with an acknowledgement about what a bad father Jimmy is. I also like that Jimmy isn't able to turn things around so quickly, becoming a bartender and sleeping with his father's lawyer, April Cho (Melissa Tang), not exactly getting to a good environment right away. It leaves him some room to expand and improve, as it should be.

It's these detailed characters, each with so much to offer, wonderfully performed by three amazing actors, that make The Goodwin Games so alluring. They all go from goofy to sincere, from crazy to wise, in moments with utter authenticity. The premise is clever, with lots of appearances by Bridges' deceased father in ways that make sense, and one can see not only some movement in these seven episodes, but also oh so many possibilities as to where they could go. This could easily have run for seven seasons and been entertaining the entire time.

Sadly, this is not to be, and The Goodwin Games has crossed the finish line.

Looking on the bright side, at least the cancellation leaves Scott Foley open to return to Scandal, where he has been upgraded to series regular. Newton should bounce back, as she did after her previously failed and charming Love Bites, making her a hot property for next year's pilot season. And Miller, perhaps not considered a popular casting choice previously, has some cred he can lobby into another role.

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