Saturday, September 27, 2003

Review: Coupling on NBC

Coupling's first episode ran last night: Understand that I'm a huge fan of the original BBC version, so I'm somewhat biased. And, I missed the first minute of the show, as it started at 9:25, not 9:30. (TiVo was busy recording CSI).

First, the good news: NBC's Coupling isn't nearly as bad as some of the harsher reviews made it out to be. The cast, a toothsome group of hardbodies, tries hard (maybe too hard). They are prettier than the BBC version.

The bad news: Some of the racier adult dialogue was cut: The aforementioned swallow joke didn't make it into the pilot. The biggest risk to an edgy show with mature content is that it gets toned down, dulling the sharp repartee. That's definitely a risk factor here; so far, the show seems to have made it to the US with its "British accent intact."

Some other weaknesses: Imitations often pale when compared to the original, and this one is no different. There's little in the way of pacing -- the show moves along in a hurried fashion, no doubt due to the 6-9 minute time difference in a 30 minute show.

Its also worth noting the differences in casting: In the BBC original, the players range from attrative (Sally) to sexy (Jane) to gorgeous (Susan). All the men are good looking, including Jeff who is cute in a Kramer kind of way ("loathsome, offensive, brute, yet I can't look away").

The NBC version is a collection of pretty hardbodies and hollywood glamourpusses. All the woman are strikingly beautiful: Jane is exotic, Sally (Sonya Walger of "Mind of the Married Man") is a stunning blond, while Susan, with her pale blue eyes and dark hair, is simply gorgeous. The men too are handsome, in a male model sort of way. If this gig doesn't work out, they can always do ads for Tommy Hilfiger. The exception is Jeff, who looks a bit like Andy Richter.

A word on the reviews: Most of the reviews I've read seem to be written by prudish 50 somethings who apparently think that all television programming should be suitable for 12 year olds. Apparently, this group of critics believes any adult content --and by that i mean mature, and not XXX -- over the airwaves is inappropriate. Since the vast majority of Americans recieve their programming evia satellite or cable, its a distinction without much of a difference. On my dish, NBC's Coupling is on channel 241, BBC's Coupling is on 135, and Sex and the City is 300.

My takeaway: I'll continue to watch it, unless it veers away from the cheeky and literate tone of the original. But to anyone else, I strongly suggest you either get BBC America, or order the first 2 seasons on DVD.

Posted at 08:20 AM in Humor, Media | Permalink


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Some follow up reviews;

NBC's Sexy Sitcom 'Coupling' No Match for 'CSI'

Posted by: Barry Ritholtz | Sep 27, 2003 10:44:52 PM

One Amazon reviewer noted the U.S. version could have been called either "Chaps" or "Squelchy in the City"

Posted by: Barry Ritholtz | Oct 6, 2003 11:44:17 AM

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