[In case you've Forgotten, and as I 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. I know some people will be all “These are reviews.” If you've read me, you've read my reviews and you know this isn't what they look like.]
Show: “Marry Me” (NBC)
The Pitch: “From the guy who would have brought you 'Happy Endings' if you'd watched and a star you'd remember from 'Happy Endings,' if you'd watched, comes a show that's a lot like 'Happy Endings,' not that you know what that means.”
Quick Response: If you'll recall, “Happy Endings” was a pilot about a gal leaving a guy at the altar and then that was never really what the show was about ever again, even if people sometimes mentioned it. Similarly, “Marry Me” seems like it's a pilot about a couple who have an unfortunate time getting their engagement right, but all signs point to a series that's an ensemble about the couple, but also their friends and families. And “Happy Endings” wasn't — sorry, I know it's unpopular to say anything mean about “Happy Endings” — a very good pilot. It was a pretty bad pilot, over-relying on shrill shouting and other forms over over-emoting, but not the kind of shrill shouting and other forms of over-emoting that the show would eventually reply on, because the writers would eventually find the strengths of the superlative cast. So when I say that “Marry Me” has kernels of a very funny show and heaping spoonfuls of high-volume exertion, but I'm not without some optimism, you know where I'm coming from. Because this isn't a good pilot and were it from anybody other than David Caspe and starred anybody other than Casey Wilson (and Ken Marino), I'd be less generous. The concentrate-initially-on-one-extreme-relationship approach puts the constantly yelling Wilson and the frequently yelling Marino — too old for the character he's playing, which we're supposed to ignore — in the spotlight and forces us to assume that, given time, Sarah Wright will be getting Elisha Cuthbert-level material and will be funny, that Tim Meadows and Dan Bucatinsky will make a splendid comic pairing, that other parts of the ensemble will shine. In a world where too many network sitcoms are safe and complacent, I'll always see merit to Caspe's try-too-hard, Accelerated Punchline Ratio (APR) style, but the relentlessness because exhausting if the punchlines are even slightly flat and a volley of Bethany Hamilton/Princess Di/Challenger/Paula Deen jokes left me fatigued with the characters making them, rather than amused at the show “edgy” enough to try them. It's an avalanche and some very well-crafted bits of phrasing and some fine comedic deliveries get muffled as a result. The “Happy Endings” characters were unappealing enough in the pilot that it took me nearly till the second season to warm to them. That may be the case here.
Desire To Watch Again: Moderately strong. Remembering that “Happy Endings” eventually made me laugh pretty hard with *some* consistency, I'll give this a while to find itself. I've always liked Marino and I usually like Wilson and as a “The Loop” and “Quintuplets” fan (or viewer, at least), I've always thought Wright was underrated. And I'm serious when I say that Meadows and Bucatinsky have the potential to be a show-making pairing, though it sounds as if Bucatinsky's involvement will be less than Meadows' role. But the show needs a better laugh-to-annoyance ratio than the pilot.
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All of my 2010 Take Me To The Pilots Entries