Tag Archives: Partners

Summer 2014 Review: Partners

27 Aug


(I’ve fallen way behind on both my TV viewing and writing, but not to worry – dear reader – I don’t give up that easy – I’ve rapidly been viewing the first episode of every new television show of 2014, with the intent of seeing them all by the end of August. To facilitate a respective blog catchup, I’ll be posting lots of much shorter entries on each show)

We take the good with the bad, right. FX recently invented the 10-90 sitcom model with Anger Management in which a cheap sitcom gets 10 episodes aired daily over two weeks; if they’re enough of a ratings success, the network picks up 90 more episodes.  This insane model is designed towards syndication success and is easily worthy of a longer post on another occasion. Saint George starring George Lopez and Partners are FX’s two attempts with the model this year.

The most important takeaway for now, about the model, is that’s it’s pretty much designed to produce, at best, mediocre sitcoms. I honestly have no idea who watches these shows. The first example, as mentioned above, was Charlie Sheen’s Anger Management, and I’ve never met anyone who watches it, but that’s not particularly surprising considering my social circle. I speak not just because of how cheaply these sitcoms are made, or because of the little attention lavished on their quality; they’re generally worked around a fickle premise and a down-on-his-luck star, two in Partners’ case, with Martin Lawrence and Kelsey Grammer. While those factors are certainly prohibitive, most importantly, even the best comedy writers in the world couldn’t craft 100 great episodes of anything in a short period of time.

Partners isn’t good. If you’ve by any chance heard of Partners, you know that, and if you hadn’t, you know that by the time you’ve gotten to this paragraph. Pushed, I’d say it’s better than Saint George, but that’s more about a battle of one downsmanship than anything else. Kelsey Grammer plays the Kelsey Grammer character. He’s an arrogant attorney who has recently been fired from his father’s firm for one too many ethical lapses. Martin Lawrence plays a do-gooder attorney who everyone loves, but who doesn’t have the gumption or attitude to stand up for himself, particularly in his divorce settlement. Them being opposites, they naturally need each other; Lawrence can use Grammer’s borderline-unethical take-what’s-mine mentality, while Grammer needs a place to practice, and maybe some exposure to someone people actually like. Supporting characters include Lawrence’s sassy mother, his teenage daughter, his gay assistant, and Grammer’s truant high school aged step daughter.

You can see every joke a mile away; the characters are crude and broadly-drawn; none of the 22 minutes is spent trying to imply there’s anything more to any of the characters than you can see in your first five second interactions. Grammer guesses that the gay assistant’s favorite legal film is Legally Blonde, and the assistant, rather than be offended, naturally cedes that Grammer’s correct. It’s less offensive than it could be, which is about the highest compliment I can possibly give this show and more than I thought I would, but it’s just as bad and pointless as you and everyone thinks.

Will I watch it again? No. There’s nothing more to be said. I rarely feel like I give too much credit to shows simply by writing about them, but I almost do here. My logic in reviewing every show has been that every show, no matter how bad, deserves to be mentioned, for all the steps that go on just to get any show to air. These 10-90 shows that absolutely nobody cares about at all really test that theory.

Fall 2012 Review: Partners

4 Oct

Note:  In a testament to the terribleness of the user experience of watching programs on CBS’s website, I accidentally watched the second episode of Partners instead of the pilot (another issue with the CBS.com experience mentioned later).  I had already written a substantial part of the review before I realized I watched the second episode and had an internal debate over whether I had to go back and watch the pilot, especially because, as you’ll read, this is a show I never wanted to watch again in my life.  I settled on the compromise of playing the episode, but not being committed to the level of concentration I normally afford a pilot.  Be forewarned though, that I may reference second episode events, in case you plan on being an avid Partners watcher.

It was a race to get in this review of Partners in before the show’s near inevitable cancellation.  A few days ago, I declared Guys with Kids the worst new show I had seen so far this season.  Well, ladies and gentleman, we have a new champion.

First, if I’ve said this once, I’ve said it a thousand times, and it’s going to reach that number eventually, but laugh tracks are terrible, for so many reasons.  They’re loud, they waste time, they’re insulting to the audience, they screw up timing, etc, etc, etc.  Enough, let’s move on.  Oh, and there’s also an obnoxious clapping sounds between scenes which is just supposed to indicate transition but is a really poor sound choice.

There’s no one passage I can dissect and tear to bits like in now Monday night stalwart 2 Broke Girls’ debut, and it’s less particularly offensive to one certain type (New York, hipsters) than it just offensive to people with senses of humor.

Partners is the story of four people (one of the few shows in fact, where I recognize all the main cast members, albeit there are only four).  Two are best friends and architectural partners at work, Joe (Numb3rs and Harold and Kumar vet David Krumholtz) and Louis (Ugly Betty’s Michael Urie).  They clearly go back a ways and care very much for each other.  They’re both involved in serious relationships with Ali (One Tree Hill’s Sophia Bush) and Wyatt (Superman himself, Brandon Routh), respectively.  The trouble of course comes in when they both meddle substantially in each other’s relationships.

Basically, it’s just painfully unfunny.  Some sitcoms I deride as old-fashioned.  This is that, but it’s a a pretty lousy old fashioned sitcom; it would have been bad at any point in time..  There’s so much classic miscommunication in just two episodes it blows my mind.  Both episodes I watched were actually incredibly similar featuring Louis both causing and solving problems of Joe’s by talking to Ali, hammering home the central joke that Joe and Louis are in a relationship with each other, just like they are with their fiance and boyfriend, respectively.  There’s even a extremely sassy non-whit female assistant.

Even the small percentage of jokes that have seeds of potentially working are murdered by a combination of the laugh track, poor timing, and simply not enough care.  Most “jokes” though don’t even make it to that level, being fundamentally faulty.

A couple of more notes on how terrible the CBS.com viewing experience is. It’s hard to click and get the episode you want.  The repetitive commercials on Hulu have always been a source of complaint, but CBS showed me this absolutely terrible Macy’s ad FOUR times in a row.  There is absolutely no excuse for that.

One last note:  Also appearing as Ali’s dopey, borderline mentally challenged assistant is Jillian Bell, who is best known for playing the dopey, borderline mentally challenged bosses assistant on Workaholics.

Will I watch it again?  Absolutely not.  Do I even need to explain further?  It’s wretched.  Do not watch.  Luckily, by the time you read this, it may not even be an option.

Fall 2012 Previews and Predictions: CBS

21 Sep

(In order to meld the spirit of futile sports predictions with the high stakes world of the who-will-be-cancelled-first fall television season, I’ve set up a very simple system of predictions for how long new shows will last.  Each day, I’ll (I’m aware I switched between we and I) lay out a network’s new shows scheduled to debut in the fall (reality shows not included – I’m already going to fail miserably on scripted shows, I don’t need to tackle a whole other animal) with my prediction of which of three categories it will fall into.

These categories are:

1.  Renewal – show gets renewed

2.  13+ – the show gets thirteen or more episodes, but not renewed

3.  12- – the show is cancelled before 13)

So CBS has two shows that look out and out terrible and two shows that will probably be bad, but have at least the possibility of not being terrible.  Let’s check ‘em out.

Made in Jersey – 9/28

If I had a contest where I picked the worst sounding show of the new season, it would have to be Made in Jersey.  I hate to be judgmental (I don’t actually hate it, but I admit I shouldn’t do it), but sometimes all you really need to hear is a premise, and you know all you need to know.  Made in Jersey is about a New Jersey lawyer from a stereotypical Italian family making her way at a presumably WASP-y white shoe New York law firm.  If I had to guess what would happen, it would be that her clients and coworkers are initially skeptically of her Jersey accent and unorthodox tactics, but she wins them over by showing them tricks they didn’t learn growing up in Connecticut and going to Yale.  Worse, the actress playing the main character is English, which at least led me to hope that the premise would be based on a lawyer from actually Jersey, the English island near France.  Alas, it was not to be.

Verdict:  13-  I know, I know, it’s CBS.   It’s on Friday, which is a blessing in that ratings are expected to be lower, but a curse in that people don’t really watch TV on Friday.  So people will watch it, and CBS didn’t cancel much very fast last year.  But their standards are also higher, and it really does look terrible.

Partners – 9/24

Two close friends and coworkers must deal with the strains of each other’s relationships; that’s about all we’ve got for a premise.  Well, also that they work as architects and one of them is gay.  Numb3rs star David Krumholtz plays the straight friend, who is engaged to One Tree Hill’s Sophia Bush.  Ugly Betty’s Michael Urie plays the gay friend, and Superman himself, Brandan Routh is Urie’s significant other.  It really shouldn’t be obvious from this limited amount of information that the show is going to be terrible, but in this case it is.

Verdict:  14+ Honestly, I shouldn’t let my verdict on one show necessarily impact my verdict on another, but I figured at least one of Partners or Made in Jersey, the two terrible looking shows would get cancelled quicker than the other.  I’m torn.  Made in Jersey is on Friday nights, which means most people won’t watch, but a mediocre A Gifted Man hung around almost a full year there.  Partners will have the security blankets of How I Met Your Mother and 2 Broke Girls (shivers) around it on Mondays.

Vegas – 9/25

The first of the CBS shows that may not actually be terrible necessarily.  It’s the 1960s, and Vegas is in its wild west days, before Steve Wynn and the like.  The show is portrayed as a battle of wills between the sheriff of Clark county, where Vegas is located, Ralph Lamb, played by Dennis Quaid, and a Chicago mobster who follows Horace Greeley’s advice and goes west to set up his own base of operations, Vincent Savino, played by The Shield star Michael Chiklis, looking to rebound from the extraordinary failure of No Ordinary Family.

Verdict:  Renewal – This is the show I feel like I have the worst grasp of on this channel.  How procedural vs. how serial it is, I don’t know, and even if I did know, I don’t know how much that would matter anyway.  I don’t think it will be very good and I don’t think it will be terrible, but I have no idea where in the range of kind of bad to kind of good it will be.  This is a wild shot in the dark.

Elementary – 9/27

Like modern-day adaptations of Sherlock Holmes, but unsatisfied by the mere 3 episodes a year produced of the British Sherlock and prefer it set in New York City?  You’re in luck.  Trainspotting’s Johnny Lee Miller is Holmes in this adaptation, and Lucy Liu is his (shock!) female Watson.  As a fan of Sherlock, I was naturally inclined to believe that a CBS take would be inferior, but initial reports are that the show is actually not so bad.  One difference may be in the involvement of Watson, who seems, in Elementary to be less involved in the cases and more irritated at Holmes.  I’m still skeptical but I’ll try to give it an honest chance.

Verdict:  Renewal – I think it’s a good fit for CBS.  It’s a procedural which means it’s right up CBS’s general alley, but if early reports are accurate it’s maybe a little bit better than most.  It should appeal to core CBS audience; Holmes is a hundred-year old character, but the show attempts to make Holmes new again with a twist.  I’m not crazy confident in this prediction but I do definitely think it’s the most likely renewal on the network.