'Partners' fails the chemistry test
Posted September 23, 2012
Funny on TV is not the same as funny in life.
When it comes to writing sitcoms, David Kohan and Max Mutchnick are clearly capable of being very amusing men, as they proved with Will & Grace. True, they did come a cropper with $#*! My Dad Says, but you'd have good reason to expect more from Partners -- a show based on their own partnership, and the show they say they've long wanted to do.
If only they had done it better. Because while Partners may be many things, "funny" isn't one of them -- or at least not often enough to matter in either of the two episodes made available for preview.
If this show really captures who they are (and that seems unlikely), then all we can assume is, like many comics, their lives are neither as entertaining or interesting as their work.
Not that Partners is exactly autobiographical -- or precisely novel. Indeed, from its title to its opening plot to the profession of the main characters, Partners is suspiciously similar to Jon Cryer's 1995 sitcom Partners -- only without Cryer, who is sorely missed.
Instead, the stars here are Michael Urie and David Krumholtz as Louis and Joe, best friends and partners in an architecture firm. Louis is emotive, flamboyant and gay, and lives with Wyatt (Brandon Routh) -- a male nurse Louis insists on calling a doctor. Joe is thoughtful, reserved, straight and dating Ali (Sophia Bush) -- a jewelry designer he may or may not be planning to marry, which is the issue driving tonight's pilot.
What you have here, then, is a show about four people and three different couples, counting Louis and Joe. What you also have, unfortunately, are three couples without a shred of chemistry in any of their configurations.
You never believe either romance; Routh seems at a loss, and Bush seems too harsh (though to be fair, that could be because most of her screen time so far has been shared with Urie). And despite the show's constant insistence that Joe and Louis are lifelong best friends, you struggle to spot what exactly Joe and Louis see in each other.
The problem is that Krumholtz does little to make Joe less dull than he's written, and Urie does nothing to make Louis less grating. There's obvious skill being expended here by Urie, but no spark: He's yet to find a way to make Louis likable in spite of himself, as Jim Parsons has with Sheldon in CBS' best comedy, The Big Bang Theory.
A new Big Bang may have been too much to ask. But we were expecting better from Mutchnick and Kohan than their painfully flat Partners, which may be the season's biggest disappointment.
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