NBC’s newest addition the their Thursday night sitcom lineup is Perfect Couples. I’m not sure how I feel about the show. It has a talented cast, many of whom I already liked before the series went to air. It’s fairly funny. I just don’t know if its original and clever enough to really stand out as something that needs to be watched.
Like ABC’s Better With You often does, the episode began with highlighting similar situations and how three different couples handle them. Unlike BWY, where the couples are alike, and the differences are determined by length of time together, these couples just have different types of chemistry and styles of communication. Rex (Hayes MacArthur, Worst Week) and Leigh (Olivia Munn, The Daily Show With Jon Stewart, Attack of the Show) are in counseling and read relationship books, so they use therapy jargon and discuss feelings. It works about as well as you think it will. Vance (David Walton, 100 Questions) and Amy (Mary Elizabeth Ellis, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) fight with lots of passion, and then make up sexually with the same level of energy. The ‘normal’ couple in the center is Dave (Kyle Bornheimer, Worst Week) and Julia (Christine Woods, FlashForward).
I love Bornheimer, and I know he just needs the right sitcom to really take off as a star. He is great in understated humor and broad physical comedy. Playing the mostly even, straight man to the zaniness around him works just as well as his goofy turn in WW. For him alone, I want this show to succeed. Munn is also pretty funny, as she has proven playing varied versions of herself in news-like entertainment. Ellis has always been wickedly funny in Sunny, and she basically kicks up that same character a notch. Woods was lucky that FF ended after only one season, because even if this series gets canceled, she will be better for it, broadening her range and cast-ability. Walton and MacArthur I don’t know as well, but they round out the ensemble just fine. All six actors commit completely to the characters they play, and do it with talent. As such, I don’t think any issues I have with the show relate to casting.
In the pilot, Dave and Julia agree to a game night with the others so that they can have their anniversary free to themselves. As you might expect, things go badly, and soon their four friends are in their bedroom. Vance and Amy’s plot makes sense, and their entanglement with the evening. However, Rex and Leigh just constantly show up, presumably so they get as much screen time as the rest. It’s not that the couple is less funny, but they just weren’t as involved in the story this week. Rather than allow the other characters room to breathe and work, it seemed like they were forced into scenes they needn’t have been.
This is just a pilot, so I won’t delve too deeply or read too much into things. Every new show has bugs, and how good the series is depends on how quickly and well they work out the kinks. I will try Perfect Couples again next week and I hope you do the same, because despite some missteps, there is potential here.
Perfect Couples airs Thursday nights at 8:30 p.m. on NBC.