Sunday, September 23, 2012

Partners: The First New TV Comedy Is A Semi-Hit

On American network TV the most important ingredient is never content.
It's time slot.
And CBS's new sitcom Partners gets an ideal time period: hammocked between the venerable (eight seasons) How I Met Your Mother at 8 p.m.  and 2 Broke Girls at 9 p.m.
The major opposition comes from ABC's Dancing with The Stars and NBC's The Voice.
The new show's pedigree is also important. Creators Max Mutchnick and David Kohan really cashed in with Will & Grace.
And one more note: Partners will invariably be compared with NBC's new sitcom The New Normal.
Both follow a gay theme that may or may not be a new TV trend. Or did Will & Grace say it all a decade ago.
I've only seen the pilot which I thought disappointing because I expected so much more.
CBS must agree with me because Molly Shannon has already been added to the mix.
Here's the premise: Louis (Michael Urie) and Charlie (David Krumholtz) have been best buds since childhood and they work together as architects.
Mutchnik and Kohan have been saying in interviews the concept is loosely patterned after their own enduring friendship.
So far the comedy writing is more than a little out there. Louis is very flamboyantly gay and as played by Broadway's Urie seems far too young to be an architect.
He also gets all the good lines --Charlie as played by TV veteran David Krumholtz (from CBS's Numb3rs) seems rather a flat character, he merely reacts to what Louis has been doing. He's the straight man in more ways than one.
In places  Partners seems like just another workplace comedy only the architect office seems cramped --it should be opened up so others can come and go.
The pilot had a typical misunderstanding plot where the ever interfering Louis got involved in trying to be a matchmaker between Charlie and his gal pal Ali (Sophia Bush). Comedy confusion ensued.
The lines seemed forced to me or maybe it was just the cast sounding each other out. The most relaxed and winning so far was Brandon Routh (Superman Returns) as Louis's live-in boyfriend.
However, the director is legendary James Burrows whose hits include the current Mike And Molly as well as Friends, Laverne & Shirley, Tony Randall and two of TV's greatest ever comedies Bob Newhart and Mary Tyler Moore.
If anybody can fix this one then Burrows is the guy.
See, I never get the feeling these two guys had been buddies forever. As played by these two actors they seemed wary of each other.
And so far the laughs just aren't there either although some critics who have seen Episode 2 say the chemistry then  breaks in.
The gay theme won't help or hurt this one, the sitcom misunderstandings are as traditional as a TV hal hour gets. How well it holds up against Dancing With the Stars and The Voice is entirely another problem.
But it's fascinating that Citytv has emerged with three CBS comedies in a row and last time I checked CBS was still the dominant U.S. network.

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