September 24, 2012



PARTNERS: Monday 8:30PM on CBS – Worth A Look

It’s impossible not to compare the new fall comedies PARTNERS on CBS and The New Normal on NBC.  Even though the CBS show is multi-camera and NBC’s is in single camera format, both are broad, sentimental comedies about what are essentially blended gay/straight families. New Normal revolves around a gay couple and the surrogate who is to have their baby (plus her young daughter and grandmother), and in Partners it’s two longtime friends and business partners, gay Louis (Michael Urie) and straight Charlie (David Krunholtz), and their significant others, respectively Wyatt (Brandon Routh) and Ali (Sophia Bush). So as a consumer note, if you have to watch just one broad, sentimental comedy about a blended gay/straight family this fall, you’ll want to make it Partners.

The writer/creators of the CBS comedy, Max Mutchnick and David Kohan (forever known as the creators of Will & Grace), have made no secret of the fact that while Louis and Charlie are architects instead of TV comedy writers, the relationship between the two is patterned after their real-life friendship and professional pairing.  The crucial part of the series is the interplay between Louis and Charlie (and between Urie and Krunholtz), and while the distinctions between them aren’t exactly subtle–Charlie makes sports analogies, which Louis, being all gay, doesn’t understand, while Louis made paninis as a shild and can’t wait to plan Charlie’s wedding–the characters click as believable buddies.  The Partners pilot was directed by James Burrows, the king of multi-camera comedy, and little touches like the way Louis and Charlie mimic each other and step on each other’s dialogue, and the way Louis reacts to Charlie’s overheard phone conversations, really sell the longtime relationship.

Partners isn’t interested in breaking new stylistic ground, and aside from the central pair, the show is rather thin.  (Post-pilot, Molly Shannon is to join the series as a recurring character.)  The pilot’s storyline is the typical sort of sitcom misunderstanding where Louis thinks that Charlie is going to break up with Ali except he proposes instead, then Louis unknowingly lets Ali know that Charlie had been thinking of breaking up, and, well, hilarity ensues.  There’s never any doubt where the story will end up, nor is Louis’s wish that Wyatt were a doctor instead of a male nurse treated as any kind of serious problem.  But we’re in good hands with Mutchnick, Kohan and Burrows, as well as Krumholtz and Urie (Bush and Routh are more, pardon the expression, straight men), who know how to regulate the pace and tone throughout so things stay funny while never going over the top.  Even amidst the mechanical one-liners (the show didn’t really need 3 separate innuendos on the pun of “heart on” sounding like something located a little farther south), there’s always an underlying tone of affection among the characters that earns viewer goodwill.

If Partners falters in the ratings, it won’t be for lack of a good timeslot.  The show has an ideal hammock position on Mondays between How I Met Your Mother and 2 Broke Girls, two of the most successful multi-camera comedies on the air.  It’s tone is more Girls than Mother, which isn’t necessarily meant as a compliment, but considering how well Girls did when launched in the post-Mother slot last season, CBS would be delighted by the comparison.   There’s every reason to think Partners will be an effective new member of the network’s increasingly large firm of hit sitcoms.


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."