NBC’s Love Bites:  Enjoy it while it lasts

Love Bites

Love Bites - Image courtesy of Channel Canada/Global Television

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While the premise that he’s been replaced by a machine in both the workplace and the bedroom is smart, I had a hard time buying that the latter would become more of a preoccupation than the former.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.


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2 Comments

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2 responses to “NBC’s Love Bites:  Enjoy it while it lasts

  1. It has been interesting to watch the development of this show slowly take hold over what seems to be a long period of time. And even in the early stages it seemed like a long shot based on its synopsis and the current viewing trends of Americans.

    That being said, I hold out hope that it might survive, if only to revive the kind of anthology that thrived back in the day.

    The show that it would be most reminiscent of would be ABC’s Love American Style, which is another reason why I would like to see this show succeed.

    An anthology series, by nature, takes a greater amount of man hours. You usually have more guest stars, and more importantly, more guest writers. It’s the guest writer aspect that bodes well for the future of TV. A young writer might not get a chance to latch on to a successful series show, but he or she might be given a chance to write a one-off story that fits into the anthology’s theme. In some rare cases, that one-off theme might be the germ for a series of it’s own.

    A prime example of this actually comes from Love American Style. An episode of that show actually spawned the series Happy Days (with Tom Bosley replacing Harold Gould as the Cunningham father).

    So, I’m all for anthologies in general. Not only because it gives the audience some variety within one format, but it also gives the suits in TV land a chance to check out young talent with somewhat less risk.

    In fact, I would like to see this anthology idea go even further. There is nothing wrong with a fourth place network like NBC cobbling together some of the best short comic vignettes that are currently all over the Internet into one anthology show (assuming they find the ones that would be network and family friendly). It would showcase fresh ideas and also be somewhat cost effective. And you never know what might grow out of it.

    Peter Anthony Holder
    Host: The Stuph File Program
    http://www.thestuphfile.com
    peter@thestuphfile.com
    http://peteranthonyholder.blogspot.com
    http://twitter.com/PAHolder
    http://www.facebook.com/paholder

  2. love, good or bad? 🙂

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