We’ve seen them all at one time or another. Single friends (Friends), newly married (Mad About You), long-wedded (All in the Family) and divorced (The Odd Couple). Now it’s the missing link: engagement.
Here we have two neighbouring couples, newly-engaged Adam and Jennifer (Oliver Hudson, Bianca Kajlich) and married pair Jeff and Audrey (Patrick Warburton, Megyn Price.
In the middle is single pal Russell (David Spade). Hey presto, there are at least three stages of romance, simply shake until reaching desired effect.
This sitcom is produced by Adam Sandler and created by Tom Hertz (Married to the Kellys, Less than Perfect, Spin City). Directing is Andy Ackerman, a longtime director on Seinfeld, which is pretty obvious with all the establishing shots of apartment building windows. If you blink it almost looks like Jerry’s from the outside.
This is all pretty harmless comic fare, but is also fairly pedestrian, offering little that feels new. Lots of fumbling, somewhat chauvinistic, men leering at waitresses or struggling to keep up with what women want. Patrick Warburton’s dry, laconic style works well in a world spinning in XX and XY chromosomes, but Spade isn’t yet offering much point of difference from his work on the success of Just Shoot Me.
Based on the pilots, Back To You (which follows at 8pm) looks a stronger finished product. But TEN has 16 eps of Engagement and only seven of Back To You, hence leading with this. In between a handful of chuckles (I’m not sure I can quantify them as laughs) I spent much of the time lamenting the current state of sitcoms and remembering the modern classics that are no more. We’re left with shows like Two and a Half Men, The New Adventures of Christine and How I Met Your Mother when we could probably find more mirth in a re-run of Seinfeld, Frasier or The Larry Sanders Show. And whatever did happen to Helen Hunt anyway?
There’s a few exceptions to that rule (My Name is Earl, The Office, 30 Rock, Curb Your Enthusiasm) of course.
Oh, back to the Rules of Engagement. I guess if you like boysy Adam Sander comedies this might be one for you.
Rules of Engagement premieres 7:30pm Wednesday Feb 13 on TEN.