A writer I know and both greatly admire and respect recently wrote in a review of ABC's new (but old, sort of) Cupid (2009): "…pretend that you're not a TV junkie, that you aren't a pop culture maven. Pretend that you're just a person who likes to watch TV after a long day of work…" Quite happily, I'm completely a TV junkie and this is not a review.
See, if this was a review and I wasn't a TV junkie I wouldn't discuss (perhaps at length) how ABC's new Cupid is created and executive produced by the same guy who brought us ABC's old Cupid (1998). I then couldn't talk about how the guy in question is the same who brought to television fans the utterly fantastic Veronica Mars. Yes, the old Cupid and the new Cupid are/were created and executive produced by Rob Thomas.
Now, if I didn't know that, if I wasn't interested in such things, there is no way on God's green Earth that I would have bothered watching the new Cupid last night. I wouldn't have found the premise terribly exciting, the genre is certainly one that doesn't do it for me, and if I turned the show on I might have been forced to catch the tail end of Dancing with the Stars (something I'd love to avoid). In short, I would have been like the majority of the country and avoided the series. The show came in last place in both total viewers and adults 18-49. Not a good way to start, particularly as it squandered its Dancing with the Stars lead-in support.
On his website, Rob Thomas states that "he fully expects 'critical darling, commercial failure' to be etched on his tombstone." Well, I'm not quite sure that this show will be termed a "critical darling," although I'll admit to really enjoying it… a lot. If I were feeling foolish today I'd put down something like "I fell in love with Cupid," but happily I've drunk enough coffee to be able to convince myself that's a bad idea. Plus, for what it's worth, it may be more lust than love.
The series stars Bobby Cannavale as a man who claims to be Cupid (the claim may or may not be accurate) and Sarah Paulson (Studio 60) as possible-Cupid's doctor. The basic premise, simply put, is that Cupid claims to have been booted from Mount Olympus and won't be readmitted until he gets 200 people to make 100 truly happy couples. Or, if you prefer, until there are enough episodes to go into syndication.
The emphasis in this new series is more on the one-off couples than the long-term Cupid and Clair (Paulson) relationship, and that's probably why I'm more lusty than in love. I wanted that relationship developed more than it was last night. I have very little desire to see 100 couples fall in love, mostly because we know exactly where that's headed every week. What we don't know is the progression of the Cupid-Claire stuff. Will they? Won't they? Is he Cupid? Is she his mythological wife? What, precisely is their deal?
That's the interesting bit of the series. That's what I, a TV junkie, want to see. And, I have to believe that's what most people want to see, that is, if most people want to see it at all. It wasn't a success 11 years ago, and it wasn't a success last night.
But, don't count out the little deity yet, things can always change. Only time (and possibly Zeus) will tell.