Saturday, 27 October 2012

Mini-Review: Ben and Kate Season 1 Episode 1 'Pilot'

Little sitcoms like this fly under the radar and don’t do very well every year. I hope that isn’t how it works out for ‘Ben and Kate’ though because I actually quite liked it.

Throughout Kate Fox’s life her brother Ben has always dropped in on her and lodged at inopportune times. Now a single mother, Kate receives another visit from Ben who has come to stay with her on his mission to reunite with his ex-girlfriend.

The premise at first seems a little shaky but the episode is very well written for a sitcom and its cast do a great job fleshing out their roles even when given a small amount of time to do so. It sometimes plays it a little too safe with a joke or two but honestly quite a lot of shows are guilty of this same flaw, most handle it noticeably worse than this show. Dana Fox, the creator of 'Ben and Kate', has crafted a lovable comedy that when not entertaining its audience with deft humour, actually has a meaningful message about family that isn’t sickeningly executed.

Nat Faxon (who recently received an Academy Award for his part in writing the excellent 2011 George Clooney vehicle ‘The Descendants’) is a terrific leading man for this pleasant comedy. His portrayal of Ben Fox is believable and hilarious all at once and Faxon’s excellent delivery as well as his chemistry with co-star Dakota Johnson, who plays Kate, is fantastic. The only bad thing to be said about Faxon in this episode is that he so drastically outshines Johnson that her performance is left feeling cold and stale and therefore slightly out of place in this well crafted show.

I don’t remember seeing a supporting cast shine as much in a comedy from just one episode as I’ve seen here. Lucy Punch is colourful and slightly unhinged in the role of Kate’s friend BJ whilst Echo Kellum’s Tommy proves the perfect match to Faxon’s Ben, his performance is slightly reminiscent of Richard Ayoade’s Moss from ‘The IT Crowd’ yet entirely Kellum’s own creation.

Sitcoms such as this don’t normally appeal to me; they usually just aren’t my preference for comedic television. However I have to admit that I’ve succumbed to the charms of ‘Ben and Kate’, it’s a genuinely funny show with great characters combined with great actors and if it keeps this quality up then I can see myself watching it for a while yet.

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