October 2, 2012


A lot can happen between the creation of a TV pilot in the spring and the production of episodes for the regular season: a writing/producing team is hired, audience focus groups weigh in, networks and studios (which may have had their own turnover) give plenty of notes, helpful and otherwise, and critics begin to rear their ugly heads. The results can include changes to tone, pace, casting, and even story. Here at THE SKED, we’re going to look past the pilots and present reviews of the first regular season episodes as well.’

PARTNERS:  Monday 8:30PM on CBS

Previously… on PARTNERS:  Louis (Michael Urie) and Joe (David Krumholtz) are best friends since childhood and partners in an architectural firm, who just can’t keep from getting in the middle of each other’s relationships with, respectively, boyfriend Wyatt (Brandon Routh) and fiancee Ali (Sophia Bush).

Episode 2:  See above.  This time it was Louis making sure that Ali provided sex and a home-cooked meal for Joe, while Joe anticipated that Louis would forget to acknowledge Wyatt’s 5-years-sober anniversary and took care of it.  Although the series makes a show toward evenhandedness, it’s clear 2 episodes in that Partners will mostly be the Michael Urie show, which for all the gags about stereotyping gays is pretty much a festival of gay stereotypes (Louis shares accessories with Ali, brandishes recipes and worries that his dog is too fat).

Partners may be 10 years ago’s idea of groundbreaking television, but it’s certainly better than the toxic The New Normal, which trades in sentimental hatefulness for purported laughs.  Urie, so far, is playing a character with less shading than even his (deliberately) cartoonish Ugly Betty role–nevertheless, he’s very good at it, and he and Krumholtz have a solid sitcom-ish rapport together.

The big problem for Partners is going to be repetitiveness.  The script by series creators (and real-life models) Max Mutchnick and David Kohan and Co-Executive Producer David Astrof hits the same marks over and over, and while James Burrows is the king of multi-camera comedy directors, somewhere around the 8th time he staged the same bit of business where someone challenged to look another person in the eye veered off at the last minute, it became officially tired.  Attempts to broaden things a bit by introducing a couple of potentially recurring characters–a sassy assistant for Louis and Joe named Ro-Ro (Tracy Vilar) and a bubbleheaded assistant for Ali named Renata (Jillian Bell)–were defeated by the fact that television doesn’t need more sassy and bubbleheaded assistant characters.  Also, there’s only limited mileage to be gained by joking about the fact that Brandon Routh is an inexpressive actor.

Partners is pleasant enough, and it isn’t a bad fit tonally with 2 Broke Girls (although it’s far less intelligent and well-structured than its How I Met Your Mother lead-in), but it didn’t have much success in its debut last week, and thus far there’s little indication the show is interested in going beyond its one-note premise in a way that might build an audience.  When your one-liners about having one’s balls shaved fall flat, it may be time to seek out some higher-grade material.


PILOT + 1:  Starting To Feel Like It’s Already in Reruns


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."