Snuck onto the NBC schedule just as the 2011-2012 TV season enters its final months, the new romantic comedy Bent, which premiered last night with back-to-back episodes, is at once both utterly generic and kind of pleasant. The premise is Rom-Com 101: a cocky, handsome n'er-do-well contractor, Pete (David Walton), is hired to renovate the home of an uptight, beautiful divorcee, Alex (Amanda Peet). What happens next -- the erotically-charged bickering, the lingering glances, the gradual thawing of icy tensions -- is so familiar, even Alex and Pete seem to realize that they're being set up for their professional relationship to take a turn for the personal. At least the predictability of watching this routine scenario play out is somewhat offset by the general likability of the supporting cast -- which includes such experienced comic ringers as Jeffrey Tambor and JB Smoove -- and, to a lesser extent, the stars themselves. Individually, Peet and Walton are only okay, but together they make an appealing comic (if not necessarily romantic) duo. Given the strength of the casting -- and the fact that Season 1 only consists of six episodes -- we'll likely stick with Bent for the duration. Still, we'd like the show more if it would make one or more of the following five improvements:
Despite what the title suggests, Rake the new Greg Kinnear show on Fox, is not about a rake or even a series of ill-placed rakes.. Heck, the name of Kinnear's character -- a lawyer with a bad boy attitude -- isn't even something like Rake Rexington, which is really too bad because then I'd be more inclined to watch this show. (His character's name is actually Keegan Deane… BORING.) Instead, the title here presumably refers to the "rakehell" characterization in literature ("An immoral or dissolute person"? Check!), as well as the term "rake" in poker (you see, the guy also gambles in this show). Sorry to bum you out, leaf-raking enthusiast, it looks like you'll have to wait a little bit longer. But don't feel bad about being duped by the vague title, because over the past few years that's become something of a trend on television. We've picked a few shows (including some upcoming new ones designed to trick us) with vague, deceptive titles, what they really meant, and what we actually want them to mean.
Buh-bye Gilly, you sick freak.
So much for no stunt casting this season on Glee.
So this network upfront actually broke some news, albeit unsurprising news that no one really cared about, but news nonetheless. Towards the end of the very lengthy two hour presentation, Donald Trump came out to announce that he was going to continue making money on The Celebrity Apprentice and not take a run at the presidency. He made it sound like he was doing us a favor, but I cover entertainment television, so having him stick around on reality TV isn't really helping me at all.
Aside from that, the rest of the presentation was fairly typical, and filled with all the NBC executives reminding us as frequently as possible that The Voice is a big success. I tried keeping count of how often they mentioned the show's name, but they worked it in so seamlessly to nearly every segment that it was almost impossible. And just when I thought they couldn't mention it one more time, they had Christina Aguilera and Cee-Lo come out at the end of the presentation to sing. Fortunately, I was already heading out the door at that point.
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