8:30 Mondays, WISH (Channel 8)
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.