'Mad Love': Familiar, but full of possibility

Jason Biggs and Sarah Chalke star as Ben and Kate in CBS's not very original new sitcom.

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How is the new CBS sitcom Mad Love like

an old CBS sitcom, How I Met Your Mother? Sooooooo many ways:

Jason Biggs, who stars as Ben in Mad

Love, looks astonishingly like Josh Radnor, who stars as Marshall in HIMYM. Sarah Chalke, who played the love

interest Stella on HIMYM, plays the love interest Kate on Mad Love.

Both shows are romantic comedies set in

New York. Both shows have two male characters who

work for law firms. Both shows use lingo like “wait

for it” and “wingman.”

That’s a lot of similarities –

too many, really – to get overly excited about Mad Love.

That said, Mad Love, which takes

Rules of Engagement’s time slot beginning Feb. 14, has a great

cast, some smart writing and, because of that, an abundance of charm.

Mad Love’s story goes where many

sitcoms have gone before – man who thinks he’s never

going to fall in love meets woman who thinks she’s never going

to fall in love. They immediately fall in love. (That would be Ben

and Kate – Biggs and Chalke.)

But there are complications. In this

case, Ben has a girlfriend who’s about to move in. So can he

break up with her before he and Kate have a first date? I think you,

as a longtime sitcom watcher, know the answer.

And there’s more later, when Kate

thinks she sees Ben in a compromising position with yet another


Those miscommunications and

misunderstandings create trust issues that, from the looks of things,

will be the obstacles Ben and Kate will need to overcome before they

can become Facebook official. Luckily, Biggs and Chalke are earnest

and cute enough together that you’ll want to join the ride.

At the same time, the show has a

running secondary story concerning Ben and Kate’s best friends,

Larry and Connie, played by Tyler Labine and Judy Greer. They’re

modeled not on HIMYM but on the great British sitcom Gavin &

Stacey’s Smithy and Nessa, who have the perfect love-hate


Labine, whose destiny as an actor seems

to be serving as the hero’s crass and sloppy buddy, plays the

part to the hilt, whether he’s hitting on women or slapping

Ben. (Slapping – also a running gag on HIMYM). And Greer, who’s

made to look much less attractive here than she actually is, has the

comic chops to give it right back. (By the way, Greer had a guest

spot on How I Met Your Mother last year.)

I don’t know whether Mad Love can

stand on its own or is destined to be a cheap knockoff of HIMYM. But

based on episode one, I’m willing to give it a second chance to

make a stronger first impression.


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