'Bent' Review: A Charming Yet Unreliable Comedy
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
On NBC's newest comedy, Bent, a practical single mom named Alex
(Amanda Peet) hires surfer bum Pete (David Walton) as her contractor.
She knows that he's bad news, that he's lazy and unreliable and that he
coasts through life on his charm which, while good, isn't nearly as
great as he thinks it is. Yet she still lets him into her life.
That's exactly how I feel about Bent (premiering Wednesday, March 21 at 9pm on NBC). It's not a particularly great show and it has some problems, but it's charming enough to find its way into my life.
Bent's charm is largely due to Walton, who unfortunately has a terrible track record when it comes to starring in NBC sitcoms (100 Questions in 2010 and Perfect Couples in 2011). Despite having plenty of problems, it's easy to see how anyone would be won over by him, no matter how many mistakes he's made.
Amanda Peet is fine as the straight-laced woman desperately trying to resist Pete's charms, though it's not much fun to play the party pooper. The weak spot in the cast, sadly, is Jeffrey Tambor as Pete's free-spirited father. It's not that Tambor (from The Larry Sanders Show and Arrested Development) is bad, it's that his character is poorly written and totally pointless. The show would be better without him.
That flaw is redeemed, however, with the trio of misfits who work on Pete's crew. There's Curb Your Enthusiasm's J.B. Smoove, Deadwood's Pasha Lychnikoff and Friday Night Lights' Jesse Plemons. The chemistry between these three (and with Walton) is remarkable and it makes me wish the entire show was just about these contractors instead of some strange romantic comedy.
Complaining hardly seems worth it, however, given NBC's strange treatment of the show. Bent will air back-to-back episodes Wednesdays at 9pm for three weeks, and that's it. The first season only has six episodes, and since the network is burning them all off in three weeks, my assumption is that it won't get a second season. It feels like NBC bought the show, made the episodes and now feels obligated to air them against the network's will. It's safe to assume the season finale of Bent on April 4 will also be its series finale.
The best part of Bent is the promise of the future for everyone involved. Maybe 2013 will be David Walton's year after three years of failed NBC sitcoms. Maybe this show will help actors like Plemons and Lychnikoff transition from serious dramas to wacky comedies. And maybe creator Tad Quill, who has worked on shows like Spin City, Scrubs and Samantha Who?, will take this as a learning experience and the next show he creates will be a hit.
(Image courtesy of NBC)