October 2, 2012

Quick Thoughts: BEN AND KATE, "Bad Cop/Bad Cop"

Last week, I was a little astonished by some people's reactions to Ben and Kate because I found the pilot charming and refreshing, but I can kind of see the cracks that were apparent during that first episode because "Bad Cop/Bad Cop" was pretty flawed yet it still made me laugh more than most comedies.

My major complaint with the episode was how it doubled down on sit-com shenanigans that felt worn out a decade ago. The main plot that involved Kate lying to the principal of Maddie's school which got wildly out of control was straight out of Comedy Writing 101, and I actually expected more from this show. Having to watch characters come up with lie after lie gets old very quickly and it all felt a bit lazy. That said, I got a kick out of the performances.

While I still think that Ben needs to carefully walk the line between lovable schlub and annoying douche, I thought he did a better job this time around. Once again, I could understand how he could make Kate's life chaotic while still meaning well and doing whatever was necessary to take care of his family. As for Kate herself, I cannot help but be charmed by everything Dakota Johnson does (like her little victory dance at the end of the episode or her hiding from the cops). Plus, there were some good moments shared between the two of them like the whole "waffles" vs. "chess" scene.

But what really sold it for me was the relationships and the love between the ensemble. For example, I got a huge kick out of the fact that Tommy's parents are in on the lie and were prepared for a situation like the impromptu margarita party and how they just rolled with it. We didn't need to see their relationships with Ben and Kate before this episode because their actions spoke volumes. Heck, even Tommy and BJ's willingness to break into a school was a wacky moment that had enough heart to make me smile. Speaking of those two, I'm still digging Tommy and BJ was slightly less annoying but things are starting to gel nicely.

Another small complaint before I go was the lack of screen time between Maddie and her family. We got a few snippets here and there that highlighted the fact that Ben cannot say no to her, but it felt like she was spending more time with BJ than her actually parental units. I get that Lucy Punch saying inappropriate things in front of a child is supposed to be funny, but that's not why I'm watching the show. I'm tuning in to see Ben, Kate and Maddie be a dysfunctional family. Sure, that includes BJ, but she doesn't need to be around that much.

I'm not going to try and sell "Bad Cop/Bad Cop" as the solid second episode that defined the series because it wasn't. It was a pretty standard sit-com set up and punchline that we've seen a million times before, but it still made me chuckle and that's what really matters.


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