Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Cupid, "Live And Let Spy": Private eyes are watching you

Spoilers for last night's "Cupid" coming up just as soon as I shuck some oysters...

I was lukewarm on the pilot, in part because I felt the couple of the week weren't interesting enough to justify taking so much time away from Trevor and Claire, in part because it was odd to see Bobby Cannavale and Sarah Paulson having to do so much material (and abbreviated material, at that) from the original pilot. But there were enough good things in it that I was hopeful for later episodes.

"Live and Let Spy," on the other hand, I just disliked.

Again, Trevor and Claire get backburnered in favor of not only the new couple, but a Felix and Lita story. The original show never felt like the "Love Boat" because we were so invested in the story of the main characters, but so far they're appearing so infrequently -- and appearing together even less -- that I'm having trouble caring about them as individuals or as a duo. When Riley told them to "get a room already," it felt like the script had to tell us that Trevor and Claire are supposed to be attracted to each other, because we've been shown precious little evidence of it.

And however thin I found the romantic story last week, it had at least had some engaging touches (the songs, Marguerite Moreau playing Dance Dance Revolution, the way the show dispensed with Holly in about 30 seconds rather than dragging it out). Other than some nice chemistry between Erik Palladino (aka Dave Malucci from "ER") and Julie Ann Emery, this one felt both dull and contrived. They so obviously got along, and so quickly, that all the switches and double switches about spying and secrets just dragged. (Also, why is a modern private eye having photo prints delivered to his door? Wouldn't he just print them himself -- or, better, just look at them on the computer?)

And after getting over the weirdness of seeing Mary Stuart Masterson doing an episodic guest spot(*) -- and in the B-story, no less -- there wasn't a lot to hold onto with the Felix and Lita story. I like both Rick Gomez and Camille Guaty -- and I was amused to see Luis from "Sesame Street" as their dad -- but so far they aren't adding much to the show. As superfluous as Champ often was on the original, he at least gave Trevor another person to bounce off of in situations where it wouldn't make sense to use Claire. Here, we're getting Felix instead of Trevor, not with him.

(*) Her IMDb entry shows she's actually done most of her work in TV lately, but it's either been as a series regular or in a long recurring stint, like on "Law & Order: Sports Utility Vehicle."

I still have enough residual affection for the old show that I'm going to stick around a while, but I don't feel like the new series is off to a strong start.

What did everybody else think?

22 comments:

Alan Sepinwall said...

Also, did anyone else's cable system have the audio and video out of sync for a long stretch in the episode's second half?

Karen said...

I don't get it. Rob Thomas gets a Mulligan and Diane Ruggiero writes the episode...and it was just blah. It didn't feel cool or funny or engaging. It felt like something my mom would watch.

It's coming off the DVR series recording list.

Matt said...

I liked it better than you did, Alan, but yes, there were serious sync problems, and yes, the reversal and sur-reversals got boring and trite.

Anonymous said...

I didn't notice any sync-ing issues, but I'm out of the tri-state area.

I just find it odd that they're not spending more time on Claire and Trevor. Given his experience with the original, you'd think Thomas would want that core story out front and center to draw people in. And he's not even giving us Trevor/Felix or Trevor/Lita. That's just weird.

But I hear things really ramp up in episode six. So we'll see what happens.

James said...

Alan, I did have the audio/video sync problems that you mentioned for at least one segment, the segment was also lacking HD quality.

In NYC the last two minutes of the episode were cut off as it creeped into the 11pm hour (due to the extended 'Dancing w/ the Stars)...for the news. So I don't know how the episode ended...

Anonymous said...

I didn't watch Cupid last night, but did watch Castle on Monday. They had some audio/video sync'ing issues from the start until well after the first commercial break.

Matt said...

Apparently, Erik Palladino also showed up on "Fringe" last night. Also, points continue to be due for their use of real New York rather than an L.A. soundstage recreation of it as we suffer through on "Castle" and "Dirty Sexy Money."

DonBoy said...

Definitely one reversal too far, and a terribly strained one at that -- like he'd even go so far as to do the pretend-signing. Also, if I'd slept with someone just once, I'm not sure I'd really be up for their parents' 40th anniversary. Felix may have Seinfeld-like powers of pickiness.

Beebo said...

The photos weren't delivered to his door; she found them in the pocket of his jacket, which she donned to answer the doorbell. I think it was a food delivery.

Michael Cowgill said...

I was going to pass on this but caught a repeat Saturday and enjoyed it enough to give it another chance. My memories of the previous version aren't clear enough to color my reactions, so I've been mostly entertained.

Luis=awesome.

Dr. Dave on two shows in the same night=disturbing.

Alan Sepinwall said...

The photos weren't delivered to his door; she found them in the pocket of his jacket, which she donned to answer the doorbell. I think it was a food delivery.

Ah, that makes sense. Rest of the story was still too contrived, but at least we can eliminate that plot hole.

Anonymous said...

There's no charm.

When I rewatched the old series last year, I would smile through the story and giggle at the end when the couple got together. It was sweet, it was sappy sometimes, but it was charming.

The couple didn't make sense - their attraction, yes. But why he was letting Trevor talk to him about his love life didn't. The misunderstandings didn't and the end resolution didn't.

As the series as a whole goes, there's no spark between this Trevor and this Claire. And Trevor is too wrong too often.

Byron said...

See, the more I watch it, the more I wonder if we were wrong to think the premise was all that great. Was it perhaps just the once-in-a-lifetime chemistry between the leads that made the '98 version memorable? I have no specific complaints about this show, and it makes me smile and laugh a bit, but it feels as empty as a CSI spin-off.

Jennifer said...

Well, my viewing of the show was impeded by (a) my having the sound cut out at the beginning of the episode, followed by (b) my mother calling, so I know I missed some details. On the other hand, I am not curious enough about what I missed to rewatch it, so...

On the one hand, I'm happy that they didn't blatantly recycle from the previous show this time and went somewhere different. So, points for trying.

I never much got what was going on between the blonde and the bartender whose son/sister were dating each other. I don't really get why they got squeezed into this episode rather than getting their own. They really should have had their own episode because it sure didn't feel like there was time for them in this one.

As for the Poor Little Rich Girl and the PI, it had potential, but the constant motive-swapping kind of got on my nerves after awhile. Though I did say to myself, "He wrote "Fuck You" on that contract, didn't he?" when they showed that bit. (Okay, the network can't show that, but I was close.)

I will say that I liked the focus in this one on how Trevor was pushing relationships on people (at the start I was all, "what, we're shoving another chick off to a foreign country now?", but nope) and then having serious doubts as to whether or not he could do the job. That's a good point to make. I can't recall if the original show did this or not?

I'll still give it another chance for not. It helps that I get home around 10 p.m. on Tuesdays and that's what's on :P

ardenswv said...

Wow, pretty much awful IMHO. Too cliched and without any witty writing to make up for it. I knew that Dad had cut off the computer video too early, but instead of getting some kind of insightful exchange on romance we got what? A scenario that could have been lifted straight from an episode of a mediocre late 70s/early 80s sitcom (e.g., Three's Company).
I can't believe that the same creators of Veronica Mars allowed last night's ep to carry their names. You can grade it on a curve (it's better than most of the reality shows on today) and make excuses for it and hope for the best to come in the next few eps. But one more that poorly written and edited, and I'll continue catching up on Hill Street Blues Season 1 via Hulu...

7s Tim said...

Never saw the original, and other mostly reliable teevee people have been a little slow out of the gate lately (sidelong glance towards whedon) so i've been learning to little slack enough to hang oneself, but the way this series has progressed thusfar seems normal. Not every show will throw a polar bear and a giant monster in the beginning episodes. most start off very, very freak (er, relationship?) of the week.

granted, if they were trying to push a real Name actor or actress on us, backburner-ing their titular protagonist and his counterpoint would be foolish, but both of them are more in the "wasn't he/she in that thing that time?" camp.

so, yeah, it's more of a formulaic show. that's how they do it a lot of the time. and since Ruggiero's last show failed quickly, maybe they're gunshy. hell, this show was canceled before. a lot of this could be network getting them to tow the line.

i'm hoping it can be better, and since tuesday is an American Idol/Boring With the Stars wasteland, i'll watch something that hasn't gotten great yet to make up for it. And i still want a show to get Paulson to say that there's someone at the door.

Hatfield said...

I never watched the original, and I missed last week, but this was only ok. And I really like both Cannavale and Paulson, so I'm willing to cut extra slack, and I STILL was only half paying attention. Bad sign.

On the plus side, your "Law & Order: SUV" joke was funny, so that's good. Reaction to the silly acronym, or sign that you don't dig the show?

Eldo Owens said...

Wasn't Erik Palladino also on Reaper recently? I knew I recognized the demon boxer from somewhere but couldn't place him until I saw him on Cupid last night,

I'm enjoying Cupid as a pleasant diversion from reality shows and procedurals so I'm hoping it survives into next season.

By the way, a little off-topic, but did Palladino's Dr. Dave get an ER sendoff like some of the other old cast members? I only watched the Doug-Carol episode and the two-hour finale.

james said...

Not a a fan of the lady lead. She's missing the intelligent, professional spark that and comes across as a stupid blonde. Her hair is ridiculous and she should get back to the original color.

Agreed that there's not enough focus on Cupid. I think I can accept him as Cupid but the comedy is missing. He comes across as too arrogant. Oddly, I never felt that way about the original Cupid.

I do like the focus on the couples more but did not like the b-side addition.

I always felt like the singles meeting and the bar in the original show were SETTING Characters. They were great focal points. I don't dig the bar in this show. I miss the barks and meows of the singles meetings.

I'm disappointed. This episode wasn't even funny.

LA said...

So far the only thing I like about this show is Bobby Cannavale. The actress playing Claire has ZERO charisma, and their chemistry together is zero, so it honestly doesn't break my heart that they aren't shown together that much. I'll give it another week or two, which is probably the same thing Steve McPherson is saying today.

Evamarie said...

I kinda liked it... I still think the series has professional. What it needs is a long-plot to draw us in other than just the "romance" between the leads. V. Mars had that Lily mystery that carried us through the mystery-of-the-week, and was the one problem (well one of) I had with Smallville - just freak of the week over and over.
This show needs to stop doing entire love stories in one episode, give us some love that develops over a few episodes.
I liked how they tried to bring in the bar owners more - the show needs more characters for us to care about. Pushing Daisies had the awesome love story in the middle, but we also have Olive, the Aunts, Emerson. The problem isn't that the bar ppl are in it - it's that they aren't that compelling. I'm starting to like the guy - but look, I can't even remember their names...
It's enough that I'll stick to the entire season, and I'm going to look up the old version.
It's kinda nice to have a cute feel-good love show.

Anonymous said...

Re MSM: I think it's more likely that she's doing most of her work in theater. That's the nice thing about shows actually filmed in New York, you get all these great stage actors dropping in.