Take Me to the Pilots '10: ABC's 'Better Together'
[As I've already mentioned, and will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots.]
Show: "Better Together," ABC
The Pitch: "We'll pair it with 'Friends' of 'HIMYM' and it'll be a smash hit!"
Quick Response:Well, it's better than "Hank." Actually, that's not fair. It's a ton better than "Hank." Still, it seems that ABC is attempting to plug the lone gap in its newly successful Wednesday Comedy Bloc with an NBC comedy from the '90s ("Friends" vet Shana Goldberg-Meehan created) or a CBS comedy from the '00s. The premise could be summed up as "Couples communicate differently when they've been together different lengths of time," but beyond that? Not much here. There's no substance and no real style and there were no laughs in the first 22 minutes, but it also wasn't *bad*. You can obscure a lot of gaps and flaws when you have the adorable JoAnna Garcia as your lead and you have unimpeachable pros like Debra Jo Rupp and Kurt Fuller as your older couple. Heck, even other regulars Jennifer Finnigan, Josh Cooke and Jake Lacy aren't exactly unlikeable. There's just something flat and old-fashioned about the pacing and punchlines (James Burrows directed and while he's a freakin' legend, he's associated with one particular rhythm). It's not a timing that goes well with the three single-camera comedies returning to ABC Wednesday. I have to feel like there was a reason why the in-demand and amazingly talented Garcia picked this particular project, but so far that reason isn't obvious, though I like that the show was willing to totally shift gears and go emotional at the end.
Desire To Watch Again: If you put "Better Together" on CBS Mondays after "How I Met Your Mother," I'd probably give the show five or six episodes to find itself, just because of compatibility and Garcia. Where it is now? One or two more episodes, maybe.