October 22, 2014

SHOWBUZZDAILY Pilot + 1 Review: “Marry Me”


MARRY ME:  Tuesday 9PM on NBC

A lot can happen between the creation of a TV pilot and the production of regular episodes: writer/producers may be hired or fired, audience focus groups weigh in, networks and studios (which may have had their own turnover) give plenty of notes, helpful and otherwise, and critics start to rear their ugly heads. Tone, pace, casting, and even story can change. Here at SHOWBUZZDAILY, we look past the pilots and present reviews of the first regular season episodes as well.

Previously… on MARRY ME:  Annie (Casey Wilson) and Jake (Ken Marino) are a longtime couple who have finally become engaged.  That unleashes a whole new set of neuroses in them, which they will weather with their friends, recently divorced Gil (John Gemberling), vain Dennah (Sarah Wright Olsen), and lesbian Kay (Tymberlee Hill).  Also on hand:  Annie’s two dads, both named Kevin (Tim Meadows and Dan Bucatinsky).

Episode 2:  There was exactly one gag in the second half-hour of Marry Me to remind fans of the late, great Happy Endings that creator David Caspe was behind that show too, and like the best moments of Happy Endings, it was entirely random:  a desultory yet ceremonial musical number performed in the middle of the night by the staff of a 24-hour buffet restaurant to commemorate the nightly changing of the soup.  The B story of the episode, written by Caspe and Co-Executive Producer Erik Sommers, and directed by Seth Gordon, concerned Gil’s decision to enjoy his unmarried state by doing things his ex would never have allowed, like going to a buffet and refusing to leave, and there’d been a reference earlier in the episode to his having seen the ceremony, but to actually write and choreograph the song was a delightful, unexpected touch.

That minute, however, was all fans got.  The rest of the episode was a labored affair that confirmed the impression of the pilot that unlike the ensemble antics of Happy Endings, Marry Me will fundamentally be The Casey Wilson Show, showcasing her character’s well-meaning but overbearing eccentricities.  Here Annie was uncomfortable when Jake moved in with her and started taking up her space and changing her stuff, and advised by her dads to find her “happy place,” she moved into her car.  As in the pilot, Jake and the other characters were basically her straight men, and both the show and the Annie-Jake relationship felt unbalanced.  Instead of being a romance between two matched crazy people, it’s all about that nutty gal.  Wilson is very funny, and she was a bright part of Happy Endings, but that show worked because there were 5 other strong comic characters around her.  It didn’t help that the emotional explanations for her behavior were spelled out pedantically in the dialogue, or that Jake was a cliched “guy” in the episode (as soon as he moved in, all he wanted to do was put his giant-screen TV up on her wall), or that Gil is interchangeable with the other heavy-set friends that the heroes of Mulaney and A to Z have been given as an accessory, or that the C story, which had Dennah overreacting to a teenager thinking she was 40 years old by freezing her face with Botox, was little more than a single, unoriginal sight gag.

Happy Endings took a while to find its comic footing, and the good news for Marry Me is that it’s been given a strong lead-in from The Voice that helped it premiere with a strong rating last week, and will allow it to have some time to improve.  We know that Caspe has the talent and comic voice needed to carry a series, and the hope is that he’ll re-adjust his elements here and the show’s spark will ignite.  (The fact that he’s working this time from semiautobiographical material–he and Wilson are actually engaged in real life–may be holding back his wilder imagination.)  Marry Me is a show worth rooting for, but it’s not yet ready for the altar.

ORIGINAL VERDICT:  If Nothing Else Is On…

PILOT + 1:  So Far, Something Borrowed and Blue


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."