September 27, 2018

SHOWBUZZDAILY Series Premiere Review: “A Million Little Things”



ABC’s A MILLION LITTLE THINGS is about as ambitious as broadcast TV intends to get this season, which in this case means This Is Us by way of The Big Chill.  As in the latter, the show revolves around a group of old friends, Eddie (David Giuntoli), Rome (Romany Malco), Gary (James Roday) and Jon (Ron Livingston), and its plot kicks into gear when one of them–Jon–commits suicide.

The This Is Us part is the aggressive and immediate soapiness of the story:  within the pilot’s hour, we learn that Eddie has been having an affair with Jon’s wife Delilah (Stephanie Szostak0, Rome suffers from depression so crippling that he was literally in the middle of committing suicide himself when Gary called to tell him about Jon, and Gary himself is a breast cancer survivor.  And that doesn’t even count Gary’s brand-new girlfriend Maggie (Allison Miller), a psychologist who hasn’t told Gary that her own cancer has returned.  Plus there’s the mystery of Jon’s suicide, which might be explained by the note we saw Jon’s assistant Ashley (Christine Ochoa) hiding, or the files she was deleting from his computer.

Series creator DJ Nash has previously worked in sitcoms (he created the unsuccessful Truth Be Told and Growing Up Fisher), and his lack of expositional finesse may make you long for This Is Us‘s Dan Fogelman.  The A Million Little Things pilot devolves into a lengthy sequence of the surviving guys blurting out dark truths to each other at a Boston Bruins game, while Delilah takes Maggie and Rome’s wife Regina (Christine Moses) to the other end of town to show Regina that Jon’s last business deal was to spend months secretly lining up a fabulous space for Regina to open her own restaurant (apparently for free?), and Maggie reveals that she’s been walking around all the time with a bottle of wine and three big glasses without anyone having noticed.

There’s enough going on in A Million Little Things to make one curious where it’s planning to go, especially as populated by the excellent cast, but the pilot also showcases a scary amount of clumsiness.  Director James Griffiths has given the pilot a handsome glow that can’t disguise the superficiality of the emotions on display and the contrivances underlying the relationships.  (The actors seem cast rather than to naturally belong together as well.)  Still, A Million Little Things isn’t a procedural or a puzzle-box supernatural mystery, and that at least sets it apart from most of the other dramas on the broadcast networks.  Soft dramas like this are a tough sell, but the competition from Chicago PD and Criminal Minds is aiming at different audiences, so there may be an opening for a show about people, giving it time to find its footing and hold an audience.  If A Million Little Things fails–and it very well might–it’s likely to be replaced by something much more familiar.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."