Tuesday, January 23, 2007

TV preview: Rules of Engagement

• I'm saying "I do" to CBS' new comedy.

Genre: Sitcom
Premiere: 8:30 p.m. (Central) Monday, Feb. 5, CBS
Cast: Patrick Warburton, David Spade, Oliver Hudson, Bianca Kajlich, Megyn Price
First three episodes verdict: &&&&

From its first scenes, CBS' midseason sitcom Rules of Engagement is hilarious and pleasantly familiar, as if you've been tuning in for several seasons already. A relationship show with five principal characters — a single guy (David Spade), an engaged couple (Oliver Hudson and Bianca Kajlich) and an "old married couple" (Patrick Warburton and Megyn Price) — it's aided tremendously by the presence of two old pros, Spade of SNL and Just Shoot Me, and Warburton, the great Puddy character from Seinfeld (and it's directed by Seinfeld vet Andy Ackerman, to boot). It's racy yet sweet as the single, engaged and long-hitched play off each other in situations that expose the selfish expectations of the young couple and the tired habits of the veterans. "Want to do it again?" she of the elder couple asks her husband after sex. Both break out in laughter. "Again. Remember 'again'?" he says. Another great line from Jeff, Warburton's character: "We've basically wrapped up the sex portion of our marriage. It's been replaced by Letterman." There's lots of the ribald stuff in the first three episodes, actually, but it's never crass, which is the only language some shows speak these days, and often relatable. Spade is the lecherous comic foil — not a big stretch, but effective, and Warburton is comfortingly Puddy-esque. Rules of Engagement is perfectly paced and smartly written, and that's rare praise in today's comedy landscape.

// See a preview here //

// Monday-night shuffle //

CBS says it's keeping fresh episodes in play with schedule shifts in its Monday comedy block:

Effective Feb. 5:
7 p.m. How I Met Your Mother
7:30 p.m. The Class
8 p.m. Two and a Half Men
8:30 p.m. Rules of Engagement

Effective March 12: The New Adventures of Old Christine supplants The Class (hope it's gone for good) at 7:30.

Effective April 9: The King of Queens enters the 8:30 slot to (mercifully) complete its run, bumping Rules of Engagement, which better come back.

All times Central.


shows4MeOnTv said...

I'm actually looking forward to this one....

I've never been a huge fan of David Spade - always found his roles to be too quirky, too over the top. In Rules, however, he appears perfectly cast as the bachelor bookended by two couples at different stages in their relationships.

Word is that those associated with the show are optimistic and confident - even in the current "Cancel Happy" climate.

Judging from the clips, they have good reason!

Jebb said...

Agreed on Spade. I enjoyed his work on SNL, but he got annoying after that. His sass works well in this show, though.

I think Rules would be a good partner to Christine. In terms of flow, not ratings, I'd like to see CBS Monday go to this lineup:

7 - How I Met Your Mother
7:30 - Two and a Half Men
8 - Christine
8:30 - Rules of Engagement