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Fall 2012 Review: Ben and Kate

16 Sep

I didn’t really have any thoughts  one way or the other about Ben and Kate originally except excitement at seeing Nat Faxon, who plays Ben as is best known by me as one episode Party Down character Garland Greenbush (he’s the annual all around winner at the Party Down company picnic; Casey calls him an “unemployed wizard”) and Academy Award winner for co-writing The Descendants.  All I knew was that it was about brother and sister, and, well you can tell from the picture, Faxon plays kind of an idiot.  It’s also kind of rare to see a successful comedy based around siblings, and it’s an obvious arrangement that honestly I’m really surprised isn’t used more often.

Every since they were little, Ben, the older brother, was sort of a happy-go-lucky dingbat who makes other people laugh but has no sense of responsibility whatsoever while younger sister Kate got pregnant young (a la Goldie from The New Normal, regular blog readers note) and has had a heightened sense of responsibility since she was younger, due to I’m sure many things, but certainly largely due to having a kid.  Ben blows in and out of town on a whim, stopping by Kate’s for a day or a weekend and then leaving again to his home apparently in Sacramento.

Ben blows into town once again in the current day.  He’s here this time because the only woman he ever loved is apparently getting married, and he’s planning to crash the wedding with his one friend, Tommy.

Kate, meanwhile has had trouble with men ever since the birth of her daughter, and Ben is always there to make a bad situation worse.  This time, she’s dating George (a guy she really really likes, people) and Ben is already making things awkward when he barges in when they’re about to make out on the couch.

On the way to crash the wedding with Kate’s daughter (Ben did not approve of the babysitter, so decided to take the daughter along with him), Kate accidentally dials Ben on her phone, and Ben overhears George talking to another woman on his phone, leading him to switch plans mid-gear, prevent Kate from sleeping with the sleazebag George, and miss crashing the wedding in the process.  They all go to the wedding together, where Ben gives a horrendous rendition of the speech he wrote on his hand but can’t read to his great love, only to find out that she was married an hour ago.

Ben, down on life, but getting over it, tells Kate, maybe he’ll stick around this time and help her raise her kid, while she gets a chance to get her life more together (after all, he’s only moving from Sacramento – Sacramento burn);  while he’s admittedly a completely irresponsible dingbat, he knows how to laugh and enjoy himself, something she could use.  Our happy family then, including Ben, Kate, the daughter, Tommy, and Kate’s fellow bartender friend BJ all travel back from the wedding festivities together.

A lot of the charm of the show was purely the humor of Faxon (again, I admit I’m biased from his fantastic Party Down cameo, again, as what Casey calls a “wizard of making woman uncomfortable”).  There’s a scene where he’s making a U-turn in Kate’s huge car and it could easily be mundane and pointless but instead is possibly the funniest scene in the show.  There’s another couple of silly scenes of him making fun of the weakness of George’s high five which made me laugh.  He carefully walked the line between hilarious and lovable and total idiot (the Andy Dwyer line?).  Lucy Punch, the British actress who played BJ, had a couple of funny lines at the bar trying to tell Kate how to seduce a man, and strangely reminding me of Ricky Gervais – I think all British comedy is just the same.

Will I watch it again?  Yeah I think I’m going to.  I’m not 100% sold yet, but I laughed enough and I like Faxon enough to bring me back for at the least another episode.