Reviews

Committed

Michael Abernethy

Hopefully, Committed will never have a special hour-long episode, because the cast would most likely hurt themselves filming it.


Committed

Airtime: Tuesdays, 9:30pm ET
Cast: Josh Cooke, Jennifer Finnigan, Darius McCrary, Tammy Lynn Michaels, Tom Poston
Network: NBC
Amazon

The "bad blind date" storyline is a sitcom staple. After lamenting the sorry state of his/her love life, our protagonist is set up on a blind date by a well-meaning friend. The date turns out to be the biggest weirdo in town. Viewers then laugh as our "normal" hero tries to wheedle his/her way out of the date.

Committed assumes that there is someone out there for everyone, including those freakish souls who serve as comic fodder for sitcom protagonists. The new NBC sitcom follows the blossoming romance of Nate (Josh Cooke) and Marni (Jennifer Finnigan), two souls so quirky and obsessive that both are in the running for the title of "biggest weirdo in town," here, New York City.

Nate is from a family of geniuses, who have all gone insane when they've reached their "potential." He, too, is a genius, but is resisting his destiny by working in a used record store, where he will achieve no "potential." Marni, an occupational therapist, has little grasp of appropriate social behavior (laughingly telling one first date about the time she realized her uncle shouldn't touch her "there"), but she is mightily optimistic. She also has a dying clown (Tom Poston) residing in her living room closet, although his ailment isn't clear. Marni explains that he came with the apartment, and lives in the closet because "he's used to small spaces."

In the premiere episode, Nate and Marni meet when each has been set up on a blind date by their best buds: macho male Bowie (Darius McCrary) for Nate and Tess (Tammy Lynn Michaels), the lazy nanny who lives across the hall from Marni. Nate and Marni are immediately attracted to one another, but a predictable series of misunderstandings keeps them guessing about the other's feelings until the episode's end. One gets the impression that the writers felt stock sitcom situations would become fresh and new if the characters performing them were crazy.

Eccentric characters can be funny yet endearing, of course. From Lucy Ricardo to Cosmo Kramer to Karen Walker, characters who think in ways a little off-center have been making people laugh for years. But their errors are recognizable and sympathetic: they say and do what most of us wish we could. Committed offers no such characters. They're all just strange.

When Nate arrives for his second date with Marni, he finds her seated at a table with Todd (guest star RonReaco Lee), a friend she's brought along on the date. Nate objects to his presence, but feels horrible guilt about asking him to leave once he realizes Todd is wheelchair-bound (he's referred to as the "passive aggressive paraplegic"). The studio audience laughed uncontrollably as Nate hung his head in shame and Todd tried to work his wheelchair through the maze of tables in the restaurant.

This scene illustrates Committed's primary failure: every aspect is overblown: Todd's melodramatic reactions to his difficulties exiting the restaurant left me wondering how he managed to get to his table in the first place. Such situations are not helped by the actors, who are equally over the top. Cooke is all wild mannerisms and hyperactivity, while Finnigan makes Marni excessively vacuous. Hopefully, the series will never have a special hour-long episode, because the cast would most likely hurt themselves filming it.

Like its central characters, Committed could use some good downers. By reining in its characterizations, the show might focus on the romance that is the show's central story arc. David and Maddie on Moonlighting, Dharma and Greg, and Phoebe and Mike on Friends were endearing couples because the oddball characters were paired with rational partners, and you believed the mutual attractions. Neither Nate nor Marni have a guide towards appropriate conduct, and their quirks are likely to intensify with time rather than be alleviated.

Which begs the question: where is this series headed? The sheer array of sociological disorders Marni and Nate reveal makes it difficult to think they have a chance. These same disorders also indicate that the show will continue with its frantic story-telling; to do otherwise would require a shift in characterization of Marni or Nate, thus altering the basic premise of the show.

Which would not be a bad idea, as it would be difficult to care about the relationship as the show is currently conceived. The show would best be served if the writers began to use the foundation they have laid to explore the dynamics of human relationships instead of putting their characters into cheesy and foreseeable situations. Still, some reviewers, such as Robert Bianco of USA Today and Alessandra Stanley of The New York Times, are holding out hope for Committed, labeling it a "fresh" idea poorly executed and arguing that it should be given a chance because of the lack of sitcom options. Maybe it's me, but I don't find the need for a Friends replacement to justify badly written sitcoms.

Music


Books


Film


Recent
Music

Paul Weller - "Earth Beat" (Singles Going Steady)

Paul Weller's singular modes as a soul man, guitar hero, and techno devotee converge into a blissful jam about hope for the earth on "Earth Beat".

Games

On Point and Click Adventure Games with Creator Joel Staaf Hästö

Point and click adventure games, says Kathy Rain and Whispers of a Machine creator Joel Staaf Hästö, hit a "sweet spot" between puzzles that exercise logical thinking and stories that stimulate emotions.

Music

The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums Ever: Part 1, Gang of Four to the Birthday Party

If we must #quarantine, at least give us some post-punk. This week we are revisiting the best post-punk albums of all-time and we kick things off with Gang of Four, Public Image Ltd., Throbbing Gristle, and more.

Music

Alison Chesley Toils in Human and Musical Connectivity on Helen Money's 'Atomic'

Chicago-based cellist, Alison Chesley (a.k.a. Helen Money) creates an utterly riveting listen from beginning to end on Atomic.

Music

That Kid's 'Crush' Is a Glittering Crossroads for E-Boy Music

That Kid's Crush stands out for its immediacy as a collection of light-hearted party music, but the project struggles with facelessness.

Books

Percival Everett's ​​​'Telephone​​​' Offers a Timely Lesson

Telephone provides a case study of a family dynamic shaken by illness, what can be controlled, and what must be accepted.

Reviews

Dream Pop's Ellis Wants to be 'Born Again'

Ellis' unhappiness serves as armor to protect her from despair on Born Again. It's better to be dejected than psychotic.

Music

Counterbalance No. 10: 'Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols'

The Spirit of ’77 abounds as Sex Pistols round out the Top Ten on the Big List. Counterbalance take a cheap holiday in other people’s misery. Right. Now.

Film

'Thor: Ragnarok' Destroys and Discards the Thor Mythos

Taika Waititi's Thor: Ragnarok takes a refreshingly iconoclastic approach to Thor, throwing out the old, bringing in the new, and packaging the story in a colourful, gorgeously trashy aesthetic that perfectly captures the spirit of the comics.

Music

Alps 2 and Harry No Release Eclectic Single "Madness at Toni's Chip Shop in Wishaw" (premiere)

Alps 2 and Harry NoSong's "Madness at Toni's Chip Shop in Wishaw" is a dizzying mix of mangled 2-step rhythms and woozy tranquil electronics.

Music

Kathleen Grace and Larry Goldings Team for Wonderfully Sparse "Where Or When" (premiere)

Kathleen Grace and Larry Goldings' "Where Or When" is a wonderfully understated performance that walks the line between pop and jazz.

Music

Run the Jewels - "Ooh LA LA" (Singles Going Steady)

Run the Jewels' "Ooh LA LA" may hit with old-school hip-hop swagger, but it also frustratingly affirms misogynistic bro-culture.

Books

New Translation of Balzac's 'Lost Illusions' Captivates

More than just a tale of one man's fall, Balzac's Lost Illusions charts how literature becomes another commodity in a system that demands backroom deals, moral compromise, and connections.

Music

Protomartyr - "Processed by the Boys" (Singles Going Steady)

Protomartyr's "Processed By the Boys" is a gripping spin on reality as we know it, and here, the revolution is being televised.

Music

Go-Go's Bassist Kathy Valentine Is on the "Write" Track After a Rock-Hard Life

The '80s were a wild and crazy time also filled with troubles, heartbreak and disappointment for Go-Go's bass player-guitarist Kathy Valentine, who covers many of those moments in her intriguing dual project that she discusses in this freewheeling interview.

Music

New Brain Trajectory: An Interview With Lee Ranaldo and Raül Refree

Two guitarists, Lee Ranaldo and Raül Refree make an album largely absent of guitar playing and enter into a bold new phase of their careers. "We want to take this wherever we can and be free of genre restraints," says Lee Ranaldo.

Books

'Trans Power' Is a Celebration of Radical Power and Beauty

Juno Roche's Trans Power discusses trans identity not as a passageway between one of two linear destinations, but as a destination of its own.

Music

Yves Tumor Soars With 'Heaven to a Tortured Mind'

On Heaven to a Tortured Mind, Yves Tumor relishes his shift to microphone caressing rock star. Here he steps out of his sonic chrysalis, dons some shiny black wings and soars.

Music

Mike Patton and Anthony Pateras' tētēma Don't Hit the Mark on 'Necroscape'

tētēma's Necroscape has some highlights and some interesting ambiance, but ultimately it's a catalog of misses for Mike Patton and Anthony Pateras.

Music

M. Ward Offers Comforting Escapism on 'Migration Stories'

Although M. Ward didn't plan the songs on Migration Stories for this pandemic, they're still capable of acting as a balm in these dark hours.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews
Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.