Pilot Watch: 'Better With You'
by Joel Keller, posted Aug 17th 2010 11:28AM
In our continuing effort to get you ready for the upcoming fall season, we're previewing pilots that were sent to critics earlier this summer.
Keep in mind that in each case, our opinions are based on a pilot that could be completely recast and reworked between now and the fall. Some of those changes have already been announced.
Show: 'Better With You'
Timeslot: Wednesdays, 8:30PM ET (Premieres September 22)
The lowdown: This is yet another comedy about three couples in different phases of their respective relationships, but at least they're all one family. Maddie and Ben (Jennifer Finnegan and Josh Cooke) have been together for nine years but have never wanted to get married, calling it a "valid life choice" (more on that catchphrase later). Meanwhile, Maddie's more carefree younger sister Mia (JoAnna Garcia) is excited about her relationship with Casey (Jake Lacy), and it's so far along after less than two months that she's a) pregnant, and b) engaged ... in that order. Mia and Maddie clash over the various states of their relationships, and all four try to figure out how to break the news about Mia and Casey to Mia and Maggie's parents, Joel and Vicky (Kurt Fuller, Debra Jo Rupp).
What we're saying: One of the executive producers of 'Better With You' is Greg Malins, whose track record includes 'Will & Grace,' 'Friends,' and 'How I Met Your Mother.' So the hope here is that, given Malins' experiences writing relationship and friendship-oriented comedy, this new multicamera comedy will eventually be able to connect with the audience. But the pilot ABC sent out for review had too much paint-by-numbers comedy and joke-flattening exposition to make any connection with the viewer. If I heard the phrase "It's a valid life choice!" one more time, I was going to snap the DVD in half (if it was on DVD... ABC hasn't issued a screener on DVD in years).
But the ingredients are there for a good show that could fit in well with ABC's up-and-coming Wednesday comedy lineup: Finnegan and Cooke have a great chemistry that goes back to their days on the sitcom 'Committed,' Garcia is always a charmer, and Fuller and Rupp are veteran sitcom actors. If the writing can pick up even a little bit -- and with Malins involved, it should -- ABC could have another comedy success on its hands.
Here's a preview:
Tell us what you think. Does ABC have a multicamera sitcom success with this show?