Saturday, September 25, 2010

Pilot Review: Better With You

Better With You (ABC)
Premiered September 22 at 8:30pm

And here it is, the show that will join ABC’s highly successful Wednesday night lineup from last year that marked the network’s return to prominence in the area of half-hour comedies. Hopefully it will have a better fate than last year’s fourth wheel “Hank” or the many shows that premiered and died on NBC’s Must See TV Thursday night throughout the years. I say this mostly because I was very pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this generally formulaic pilot. Spotlighting three different couples is something that’s been done time and time again, and I don’t have good memories of the last show on which Josh Cooke and Jennifer Finnigan played a couple on NBC’s “Committed.” Fortunately, the results here are much better. There’s the puppy-love couple – Jake Lacy and Joanna Garcia, in a much better role than she had on “Privileged”) – and the unmarried duo that have been dating for nine years – Cooke and Finnigan – as well as the parents of the two girls, played by Kurt Fuller, most recently seen recurring as the coroner on “Psych,” and Debra Jo Rupp, best known as matriarch Kitty on “That 70s Show.” The relationships are presented as diametrically opposed to one another, and the comparison is much more effective (and fresh) than one might expect. The existence of the laugh track isn’t necessarily a benefit, but it feels somewhat appropriate since this show probably wouldn’t work without it. I will confess that I was laughing out loud for a good minute or so at one point, prompting my less amused friend to glare at me during a pilot screening I attended a few weeks ago. There are a number of laughs in the pilot, and both Garcia and Cooke are very well-suited for their respective roles. Finnigan is a bit shrill, while Lacy hardly seems qualified for his slacker part (that may be the point). Fuller and Rupp are particularly entertaining, and their relationship may be the funniest of the three. I’m not sure how sustainable this show is, but the pilot had me cracking up a whole lot more than I had expected.

How will it work as a series? The hasty engagement of the youngest couple could quickly unravel, but the setup of the show as telling the stories of three couples suggests that Lacy’s Casey isn’t going anywhere. It’s possible that the jokes about different types of couples could become tired very fast, and it will be up to the cast and the episodic plotlines to pick up the slack. I fear this could be just like “Cougar Town,” where the pilot was strong but the show took a dive right after that. At least this title should remain applicable.
How long will it last? Again, hopefully longer than “Hank” did last year. It would certainly be a positive thing for ABC to have four comedies to air new episodes of each week rather than only three, so I imagine they may give it a bit of a chance. It’s too early to tell, but sadly, I don’t think this one will last past this season (though it might be okay until that point).


1 comment:

Greg Boyd said...

Supposedly, "Cougar Town" has turned into a really good show after the few few (lousy) episodes. Just so you know.

Also, I've started my "Modern Family" catch-up, and three episodes in it's as funny as anything I've seen on TV since "Arrested Development" ended. Brilliant stuff so far.