|Zachary Quinto in The Slap.|
The Slap is a title that gets right to the point of a limited-run NBC series – only eight episodes – about the dysfunctional dynamic of several families gathered for a Brooklyn birthday party. Perhaps this new drama should be called The Blink, as in blink and you’ll miss it. Which would be a shame, given the stellar cast and a timely premise: In an age of permissive helicopter parents, what happens when a child of about six, still being breast-fed and bearing the burden of a name like Hugo, is disciplined by another kid’s father for unruly behavior? That slapper is Harry (the always fascinating Zachary Quinto), a working class guy with a short fuse. He’s the cousin of Hector (Peter Sarsgaard, also a gem of an actor), an urban planner who is turning 40, has not gotten an anticipated promotion and is experiencing a mid-life crisis mostly geared to fantasies about a flirtatious teenage babysitter, Connie (Makenzie Leigh, Gotham). His wife Aisha (Thandie Newton) is a doctor; they have two biracial children. Add to the mix a Greek immigrant generation, a paternal grandpa and grandma portrayed by Brian Cox and Maria Tucci, critical of their daughter-in-law’s 21st-century feminist ways. The slapped brat in question (Dylan Schombing) is coddled by his dad, Gary (Thomas Sadoski, The Newsroom), a struggling artist type resentful of Garry’s nouveau riche status thanks to a lucrative high-end car dealership. The nursing mom, Rosie (Melissa George, The Good Wife) seems to think of Hugo as a misunderstood genius.