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‘Partners’ is best of new sitcom trio

By Rob Hedelt, The Free Lance-Star

ONE  new sitcom  tries to mine laughs  from a different sort of “odd couple” friendship.

  Another goes for the old “wacky brother” approach.

  And the third? I’m still trying to figure out the  appeal of a middle-aged OB/GYN who acts like a promiscuous, dysfunctional 16-year-old. 

CBS’ “Partners,” which airs tomorrow night and puts a new twist on the old “odd couple” formula, is the best of the bunch.

  The show benefits largely from star David Krumholtz (“Numb3rs,”), who is solid enough to play all the permutations of straight man the role requires.

  He’s Joe, in a friendship and work partnership with  his childhood buddy Louis (Michael Urie from “Ugly Betty”).

 Toss in Joe’s fiancée, Ali (Sophia Bush from “One Tree Hill”), who has long since realized that loving Joe means she gets a life that includes Louis. She’s spot-on for the role of the beautiful if somewhat shallow girlfriend.

  To complete the circle, add Wyatt (Brandon Routh of “Superman” fame), who earns grins for his somewhat doltish portrayal of Louis’ hunky boyfriend.

  Yes, we’ve seen this “friends who are different but care for each other” theme since Felix and Oscar did it so long ago. But this version has the chance to shine, at least if things flow solidly from last week’s funny pilot.

  I hope they make Louis the crazy, funny character who happens to be gay, instead of the crazy gay guy who is occasionally funny.

  Krumholtz is a great actor, and  the ability for comedy he displays here is somewhat surprising. His role on CBS’ “Numb3rs” was so different—a mathematical whiz who struggled with emotions and regular life.

This new show proves the range he has.

  SIBLINGS INSUFFERABLE

I don’t have similarly nice things to say about “Ben and Kate,” airing  Tuesdays on Fox.

It isn’t the premise that doesn’t work.

There’s something sweet about a brother and sister who support each other as young adults.

  The problem here is that neither one of them is very interesting or likable.

  Ben (Nat Faxon) is a jerk who zooms in and out of his sister’s life whenever his is getting out of hand, making odd remarks and doing odd things like arriving with a random drum set.

  We’ve seen this too many times in recent years, the macho, fast-talking but thin-thinking man–child who thinks he’s cute—but isn’t.

 Kate is supposed to be the cute one with more sense—she does, after all, have a beautiful young daughter named Maddie—but she doesn’t have much on her brother.

  The pilot has Ben chasing a girl who doesn’t want him and Kate trying to have a normal romantic encounter but ruining it by being bizarre in other ways.

Brother and sister are in the same place at episode’s end, but by then too many folks will have channel-surfed elsewhere.

 There’s a problem when the little girl in the cast is the only one you really like.

WORSE THAN THAT

Younger viewers may be able to connect to the kooky, vacuous world Mindy Kaling creates in her new show, “The Mindy Project.”

  The star is described on the show’s website as “funny, impatient and politically incorrect.” But  I didn’t find her  character—a young woman who succeeds as a doctor but has no self-respect and very few redeeming qualities—funny in the least.

  How hilarious is it that she gets loaded at the wedding of a former beau and rides a bicycle into a pool—where she talks to a Barbie doll on the bottom about how hopeless her life is?

  Oh, stop, my sides are killing me!

  The real problem I have is that this young woman, a doctor, doesn’t feel real or even close enough to make you care what happens to her.

  It’s bad enough that this young woman feels she needs a man to give her worth. 

Even worse is the fact that the show’s only interesting moments occur when she and co-star Chris Messina, who plays a fellow doctor, butt heads.

  When he’s not around, she’s a drifting mess that isn’t enough to build a show around.

  Either keep them together onscreen or  let this become one more television project that just didn’t work.

WANT TO WATCH?

What: “Partners”

When: Mondays at 8:30

Where: CBS

What: “Ben and Kate”

When: Tuesdays at 8:30

Where: Fox

What: “The Mindy Project”

When: Tuesdays at 9:30

Where: Fox

 

Rob Hedelt:  540/374-5415

rhedelt@freelancestar.com

Permalink: http://news.fredericksburg.com/features/2012/09/27/partners-is-best-of-new-sitcom-trio/

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