Note: This review was written by Steve Hatton for Channel Canada and is reprinted here with permission. This review may contain some spoilers.
An advanced viewing of the new, romantic-comedy series Love Bites revealed a few things I wasn’t expecting, things that could either make or break it. Even though it might be a refreshing change from what is normally seen on television, the pilot’s anthology-style format not only surprised me and left me wondering at times but it also created a few credibility issues.
The one-hour long episode consists of three different stories. Each one is independent from the other except for a few casual references to the preceding story scattered here and there, I guess to make sure that American audiences aren’t completely perplexed as to what is going on. In reality, though, the references are sometimes forced and are just more distracting than anything else. All told, it felt like I was watching three short films back to back.
The separate plots that make Love Bites unique may also end up being its Achilles’ heel. Viewers are just not used to anthology-style TV and some might be put off by it. Sure, The Twilight Zone and The Honeymooners also had episodes with multiple stories, but those haven’t been on mainstream television in a long time.
In addition, there are a few aspects of the various plots I had a hard time believing. In one of the stories, an accountant finds himself out of a job as the result of a new software capable of doing his work. To make matters worse, he comes home early to find out that his wife has a new vibrator which, apparently, can do the job better than he can.
While the premise that he’s been replaced by a machine in both the workplace and the bedroom is smart, I had a hard time buying that the latter would become more of a preoccupation than the former. His worries about money are essentially nonexistent.
I also had a hard time believing that his coworker, who was also fired, didn’t jump at an opportunity to take his high-paying job back because he got work as a clerk in a sex shop. Had the story had more time to develop, I might have been able to see it, but instead it seemed contrived solely so that they could quickly move the plot ahead to focus on the love and sex part.
Credibility is also an issue in another storyline featuring Judd (Greg Grunberg), a married guy who contemplates whether or not he will sleep with his all-time favourite celebrity Jennifer Love Hewitt, after he accidentally runs into her on an airplane. As luck would have it, she is on his list of famous people that couples tend to have which allow a spouse to have a free pass, meaning that it wouldn’t even be considered cheating according to his own wife. So just exactly how is this suppose to be a dilemma? I mean, really, how many ways are there to say yes?
However, Love Bites, does have a few moments that tug at your heartstrings, so some viewers will relate nonetheless. The characters are quirky, funny and likeable. The Daily Show‘s Larry Wilmore’s performance as the boss who brutally fires his employee with a straight face and without a care, is actually quite brilliant. Some elements of the writing are definitely clever, and the short-story aspect somehow makes things feel genuine and real. It’s not impossible that this series will find a few loyal supporters.
Yet, sadly, insiders believe that Love Bites will never go beyond its nine episodes produced. It was supposed to be a Fall 2010 show, but numerous delays have made it a late starter. As a result, most of the actors involved have moved on to other TV projects. Oh… and it’s usually not good for your new show when the actress who plays the virgin (Becki Newton) gets pregnant in the middle of shooting.
The bottom line is that Love Bites is worth checking out. Not because the show will stick around, but rather because this might be your only opportunity to see an anthology-style romantic-comedy on television.
Love Bites starts June 2 on Global and NBC, 10/9c.