"What are you doing?" -DaveI said a lot of what I had to say about the pilot my review of the new "Cupid" in today's column, in which I tried my best not to make too many comparisons to the original. But since this is a blog, and one where I spent a lot of time last year dissecting the Jeremy Piven version, I think it's only fair to, just this once, talk about how one looks in relation to the other. I'll try not to do this too much -- though I doubt I'll be able to avoid it when they do the episode remaking the original series' "The Linguist" -- but it seems unavoidable at the start to discuss how they kicked it the mid-'90s versus how they're kickin' it today.
"Teaching this youngster how we used to kick it in the mid-'90s." -Madeline
First up, I should say I like Bobby Cannavale and Sarah Paulson quite a bit. They take different approaches to their characters than Piven and Paula Marshall did, as you would expect and probably want them to, but they make it work. Cannavale's Trevor seems more sweet and childlike than Piven's aggressive take on the character. (Piven might have led an "All You Need Is Love" singalong, but he would have been a lot angrier doing it.) Paulson, meanwhile, seems more sharp-edged than Marshall, which in turn balances nicely against Cannavale's gentler Trevor.
My issue is that I have little idea how well they're going to work together because, as discussed in the column, the show kept cutting away -- particularly in the second half -- to focus on the new Dave and Madeline. I don't know if people who haven't seen the original (or, at least, haven't watched it lately) would have the same reaction, but the Trevor/Claire material that we did get felt like the abridged version of the same scenes a decade ago; the plot content was there, but not the material on the margins that made it sparkle before.
Now, one of my complaints about the original "Cupid" pilot was that its version of Dave and Madeline (George Newbern and Connie Britton, in an entirely different plot) didn't get much screentime themselves. And that's always going to be a tricky balance between the regulars and the anthological guest stars. But I think in the first episode, it's more important to get to know the people who will be around every week instead of the ones who get a happy ending and never turn up again. And since Dave/Madeline '09 wasn't as inspired a story as some of the best ones from the original show, I got particularly frustrated that Trevor and Claire kept being pushed to the margins.
I'll give that story one bit of praise: where the original pilot had Trevor being correct and Claire being wrong, this one starts out the other way, then has them team up in the end. Because it's so easy for Claire to come off as the wet blanket, I think it's very smart to establish from the jump that she really does know what she's talking about with romance, and that she can sometimes be more perceptive than Trevor.
As for the rest of it, I like both Rick Gomez (older brother to Josh "Morgan" Gomez from "Chuck") and Camille Guaty (aka the original Maricruz on "Prison Break"), but I don't see the point in replacing the original show's Champ -- whom the writers didn't know what to do with half the time as it is -- with two different characters. But I'm happy to see Joe Lo Truglio from "The State"(*) (and, starting tomorrow night, a regular on "Reno 911") as one of the singles group members. I assume he'll be one of the ones, like Paul Adelstein on the original, who hangs around a long time because he can't find a girlfriend.
(*) Here's Lo Truglio trying to order a chicken sandwich. Good times.
Anyway, that's it for the one-to-one comparisons for a while, I hope.
What did everybody -- whether you watched the original show or not -- think?