Ever notice that the trailers for FOX’s new comedy/drama The Big Leap resemble the same storyline as the animated film Sing? In the cartoon, a group of unhappy characters try out for a singing talent show despite their lack of experience and in some cases, the support of their family and friends. In The Big Leap, the storyline is very similar substituting dancing for singing.
The Big Leap is created by Liz Heldens, Jason Winer and Sue Naegle (known for their work on Friday Night Lights, Modern Family and The Plot Against America respectively) who show that they know how to blend comedy and drama together producing potential heartfelt scenes with a dash of comedy so that they don’t come off as too sappy.
Inspired by a real-life reality competition TV series of the same name in the U.K., America’s The Big Leap is fictional show about a version of the series being made in Detroit. Promising to be a show about second chances, the show features a large, diverse cast of characters who for one reason or another feel as happiness has passed them by. Together, this rag-tag bunch from all walks of life are coming together to produce a live production of Swan Lake for TV.
Scott Foley plays the closest thing to a villain as TV show producer who states that this new show is not about the dancing, but instead it is about the drama between the contestants from the dirt he digs up. He doesn’t really care about the dancing. His job is about getting good ratings and in order to do that, he needs to find some broken people who will react to some made up controversies. This motivation is barely mentioned in the pilot episode, however and instead spends more time on introducing us to the characters. But previews of coming episodes promises some fireworks and hurt feelings.
The Big Leap features a large cast of characters including:
- Gabby (Karen Rodriguez), who had a child out of wedlock after a one-night stand many years before and gave up her dream to be a dancer because of it. She is friends with Justin (Raymond Cham Jr.) a former high school boyfriend and unhappy bowling alley worker. He gave up his dreams of becoming a dancer when his father threw him out of the house after discovering that Justin was gay.
- Julia Perkins (Teri Polo) is a former ballet dancer who gave up dancing to raise a family. Today she makes vlogging videos to encourage other women who are growing older. He teen daughters are unsupportive brats and her husband is fairly absent in the marriage. He works from home locking himself in his office not to be disturbed. Julia fears that he’s having an affair.
- Mike (Jon Rudnitsky) is going through a divorce and by entering this competition, hopes to win his wife back in the process. Sure. That will work.
- Reggis (Ser’Darius Blain) is a former football star with a bad reputation to get over. He has no dancing experience whatsoever but really wants to clean up his image.
- The twins Brittany Lovewell (Anna Grace Barlow) and Simon Lovewell (Adam Kaplan) who dance more like they are a married pair rather than siblings. Creepy.
- Overseeing all of it are former dancers now serving as producers for the show, Wayne (Kevin Daniels) and Monica (Mallory Jansen). The former loves everything that he sees why it takes a lot more for the latter to be impressed.
While the show does offer some touching moments, it’s the comedy that sells it. I was pleasantly surprised how enjoyable this show was. If you ever served on a drama team or dance troupe that is really supportive of each other, this show will remind you of those days. Regardless of what goes on, the show must go on. Sure, it’s goofy at times (like dancing in the bowling alley), but the script is full of likeable characters and with it competing with Dancing with the Stars timeslot, it makes a good excuse to take a breather from the real dancing competition show this season.
The Big Leap airs on Mondays at 9 p.m. on FOX
Main image: Mallory Jansen, Kevin Daniels, Scott Foley, Anna Grace Barlow, Jon Rudnitsky, Piper Perabo, Ser’Darius Blain, Simone Recasner, Raymond Cham Jr. and Teri Polo. (Mary Ellen Matthews/FOX)
I write about pop culture, arts and entertainment in the greater Seattle area.