‘Love Bites’ – ‘Firsts’: All you need is (Jennifer) Love (Hewitt)

Senior Television Writer
06.03.11 27 Comments


It’s always funny how quickly a show can go from a network’s darling to a complete afterthought. A year ago, NBC was so high on “Love Bites,” a romantic anthology series from “Sex and the City” writer Cindy Chupack, that it scheduled it on Thursdays at 10. Perhaps more importantly, network execs were so excited about it that they screened a large chunk of the pilot episode (the Greg Grunberg/Jennifer Love Hewitt one) at the upfront presentation. A network only tries something like that if they have overwhelming confidence in a show – ABC the year before showed the entire “Modern Family” pilot – and so someone, somewhere, was convinced the world was ready to love “Love Bites.”

Instead, the clip pretty much bombed. Craig Robinson, predictably, got a couple of laughs, but beyond that, there was no reaction to anything happening on the big screen, and only polite applause when it was finally over. Then Chupack had to step down as showrunner for personal reasons, Jordana Spiro (who was supposed to be the one continuing co-star with Becki Newton) had to drop out because TBS wouldn’t release her from her “My Boys” contract(*), the producers realized it was going to be a hassle to work around Newton’s pregnancy – even though, as established in the pilot, her character was being a surrogate for her sister and brother-in-law – and “Love Bites” very quickly got pushed to mid-season… only with no premiere date.

(*) Even though “My Boys” got canceled a few months later, both Spiro and Kyle Howard (who originally had the Kyle Bornheimer role in “Perfect Couples”) lost out on work – and Howard weirdly turned up in the final version of the “Love Bites” pilot in one of the anthology stories.

And as NBC announced one mid-season scheduling move after another, “Love Bites” continued to not be on any of those lists, until it was ultimately scheduled for a Summer Burn-Off Theatre run that began last night. And based on the low premiere ratings, it might not even wind up outlasting “The Paul Reiser Show.” 

As to the episode itself, I watched it this morning (including a rewatch of the Grunberg/Love stuff) and it’s exactly as it seemed back in that excerpt last spring: a bunch of actors I like contorting themselves through wacky romantic and sexual hijinks done without a lot of style or comic polish, with an occasional amusing moment coming from the likes of Robinson or Larry Wilmore. I have no need to come back for more.

Did any of you bother tuning in last night? If so, what did you think?

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