Take Me To The Pilots ’12: CBS’ ‘Partners’

[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:“Partners” (CBS)
The Pitch: You know that show that aired on FOX in the ’90s about the two friends who are architects and co-dependents? That show that was created by the guy who used to work on “Will & Grace”? That show that was also called “Partners”? Well, this show is nothing like that. Except for the ways it is. Which you won’t recognize anyway. Because nobody watched that “Partners.”
Quick Response: “Will & Grace” creators David Kohan and Max Mutchnick, masters of exploiting the really, really obvious differences between gay folks and straight folks for very, very broad multi-cam laughs are back with what might be their most autobiographical show to date. It’s also possibly their broadest show to date, which is saying a lot. I’m not really comfortable judging “Partners” solely off its pilot, which is aggressively unfunny, but is also over-invested in establishing a premise that isn’t nearly complicated enough to require this much set up. See, there’s a gay architect (Michael Urie) and a straight architect (David Krumholtz) and they’re partners. But the gay guy has a boyfriend (Brandon Routh) and the straight guy has a fiance (Sophia Bush) and, as the fiance explains, “I think we just need to accept the fact that there are four people at this table, but three couples.” In a smart pilot for smart people, that probably could have been illustrated in one well-written dinner table scene that could have taken place before the opening credits. It’s not hard to understand, but Mutchnick and Kohan are afraid you won’t understand, so that’s all that happens in the pilot. The premise is repeated over and over and over again, underlined at every opportunity. I got it. And I wasn’t all that amused. But because of the belaboring, I don’t know how stories are going to be told in subsequent episodes, so I’m going to have to watch again, against my better judgment. The flaw in the structure of the pilot is that at least in the first 20 minutes, Krumholtz and Urie don’t really have all that much chemistry, or at least their characters don’t. I’d have sacrificed the repetition in the pilot for just one or two effective illustrations of why these guys are friends and one or two positive examples of their friendship at work. It’s the kind of thing that could have taken place through their work at the architecture firm, except that the profession isn’t even an afterthought in the pilot. I wasn’t even an “Ugly Betty” fan, but I know that Urie’s a pretty funny guy who has, unfortunately, been written and directed to be obnoxious. He’s obnoxious with his best friend, with his boyfriend and with his best friend’s girlfriend. So there are three couples at that table, but Urie’s character poisons two of the key relationships. That’s bad. Either the writers find a way to make that character’s self-absorption funny or the show will fail hard. Krumholtz is fine, but he’s mostly playing the straight man — pun, unfortunately, intended — and Routh and Bush seem like they’re prepared to have fun doing a sitcom, if only they’d be allowed to have fun. So far? No fun. Just redundant writing, stagnant direction and cheap sets.
Desire To Watch Again: “Partners” is airing after “How I Met Your Mother,” a show I dislike, but watch religiously anyway. Because of that slotting, and because of the appreciation for Sophia Bush that led me to watch waaaaay too many seasons of “One Tree Hill,” I’ll give “Partners” a few more episodes. I stick with shows airing after “HIMYM” way too faithfully. I hated “Big Bang Theory” in the beginning and kept going with it until it got a lot better. I disliked “2 Broke Girls” in the beginning and kept going with it even though it never got better. “Partners” will get its chance.

Take Me To The Pilots ’12: ABC’s ‘Nashville’
Take Me To The Pilots ’12: CBS’ ‘Made in Jersey’
Take Me To The Pilots ’12: The CW’s ‘Emily Owens, M.D.’
Take Me To The Pilots ’12: FOX’s ‘Mob Doctor’
Take Me To The Pilots ’12: NBC’s ‘Animal Practice’
Take Me To The Pilots ’12: ABC’s ‘Last Resort’
Take Me To The Pilots ’12: CBS’ ‘Vegas’
Take Me To The Pilots ’12: The CW’s ‘Beauty & The Beast’
Take Me To The Pilots ’12: ABC’s ‘666 Park Avenue’
Take Me To The Pilots ’12: NBC’s ‘Chicago Fire’
Take Me To The Pilots ’12: FOX’s ‘Ben and Kate’
Take Me To The Pilots ’12: CBS’ ‘Elementary’
Take Me To The Pilots ’12: The CW’s ‘Arrow’
Take Me To The Pilots ’12: ABC’s ‘The Neighbors’
Take Me To The Pilots ’12: NBC’s ‘Revolution’
All of last year’s Take Me To The Pilots entries