Buy, Sell, or Rent: Ben and Kate
current song: "In My Bed" by The Orwells
I'll Be There to Watch You Be There for Each Other
When Fox released its preview of Ben and Kate during May up-fronts, it was frighteningly good - so good that it was without question the strongest new comedy promo. With such promise, though, comes the potential for great disappointment... just as is the case with exceptional movie trailers. How often have executives crammed a film's every laugh into a two minute trailer, and then, when audiences finally see the movie, they're so utterly disillusioned and let down. That was the fear with Ben and Kate. It is a relief to say that such fear was unfounded.
If you look at this cast, there are no recognizable names, no celebrity to hitch this new series on the back of an already established actor or actress' fame and brand. This could possibly be Ben and Kate's greatest strength. Because its faces are so new to television, their enthusiasm and talents seem fresh and untarnished. There are no expectations weighing them down, and this presents itself as one of the key reasons why the series is so unencumbered. While its concept is nothing new: two siblings from a dysfunctional family become each others' unorthodox yet somehow successful support system, its Dakota Johnson and Nat Faxon's undeniable brother-sister chemistry that makes it work. The characters' descriptions aren't original, but Ben and Kate are. Sprinkle in a precocious Maggie Elizabeth Jones as Kate's five year old daughter, Lucy Punch as the program's resident kind-hearted slut, and Echo Kellum as the quirky sidekick, and Ben and Kate presents a small yet sensational cast.
Despite its stellar trailer which featured one laugh after another, Ben and Kate's pilot was still funny. Those previewed jokes were just as funny the second (or third) time around, and the new ones made a very strong case for why they should have been included in the preview as well. Plus, the series has so much potential. Besides watching as these characters find their ways in the world, their pasts could come back to haunt them at any time. The audience never saw a single shot of the parents responsible for creating this non-traditional family, but, because their offspring are so entertaining, it can only be presumed that the introduction of Mom and Pops Fox would only add to the deliciously humorous chaos. Plus, what's BJ's back story. Why is she now living in the United States? Then there's also Tommy's blatantly obvious crush on Kate to explore as well. And this isn't even considering all the new week-to-week characters that have yet to be introduced and/or created and all the laughs they'll produce when interacting with such a magnificent nucleus of leads and working under such a strong, heartfelt premise. The possibilities seem limitless.
Verdict: Buy! This is the best comedy pilot since Modern Family.