March 09, 2007

TV: The Wedding Bells

So, there's these three sisters named Bell, and they run a wedding planning agency. They're the Wedding Bells. Get it? Wedding Bells? Ha ha ha ha, it's funny. is.

But that's about the level of wit to be found in the first episode of the show. The sisters are cardboard characters, each reducible to a single word: Sensible, Neurotic, and Slut. Sensible is married to the company's COO (we know this because he says at least seventeen times, "But I'm the COO!"); Neurotic won't admit that she's still hung up on the wedding photographer; and Slut has absolutely no other character trait. (Yes, I know that "slut" is a sex-negative, judgmental word, but that's the show's attitude towards the character.)

The best performances in the first episode come from the supporting characters. Sherri Sheppard, who never gets to play anything but the sassy fat black lady, and who always finds a way to bring something interesting to her roles anyway, gets laughs as one of the agency's bride-wranglers; Missi Pyle, as the pilot's principal bride, does tightly-wound and controlling as well as anyone. (She's reportedly joining the cast as a regular, somehow winding up on the agency's board of directors; her presence can only help).

But lord, this is hackneyed stuff. Creator David E. Kelley has done some fine work over the years, but all of his interesting shows have been built around the law; the only remotely successful show he's had outside a courtroom setting was Boston Public, and even there, those teachers and students wound up arguing about legal issues and going to court with surprising frequency. Outside the courtroom, though, he gives us dreck like Snoops or The Brotherhood of Poland, NH. Or this. (Doesn't augur well for his upcoming remake of the British time-traveling cop series Life on Mars, does it?)

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