"Partners" should be a breakout comedy; it is from the creators of "Will & Grace" (David Kohan and Max Mutchnick), and the top-notch cast promises something truly special. Unfortunately, the premiere "Pilot" episode did not live up to that promise. Not only was the show filled with clichés, it did not have a single amusing moment.
Joe and Louis
The show centers around two friends, Joe (played by David Krumholtz, who was terrific on "Numb3rs") and Louis ("Ugly Betty's" Michael Urie). Louis is gay, and Joe is straight. The beginning showed the two of them as children creating a house of Popsicle sticks, then when they were older, out of Legos. In the present day, they stood in front of a neatly constructed scale model of a home. In case you hadn't guessed, they now work together as architects.
There were many opportunities during these beginning scenes to charm the viewers and create endearing characters. Instead, the scenes focused on throw away lines that fell flat and didn't teach us anything about the characters other than their sexual orientations.
They are each in relationships. Joe is worried about the ultimatum he has received from his girlfriend, Ali (Sophia Bush, from "One Tree Hill"), and needs Louis's advice. Louis tells Joe to go with his gut. Initially, Louis believes that Joe is going to break up with Ali. Instead, he actually listens to Louis and gets wrapped up in the moment, proposing to Ali.
It took a bit of coaxing to convince Joe to go with his gut. He believes in rational thought, while Louis is led almost entirely by his gut. The relationship could actually work really well, if only the jokes were funny.
Louis mentioned to Ali that Joe was originally planning on breaking up with her, causing her to break off the engagement after realizing the proposal was spur of the moment. Then he is able to convince her to change her mind by proposing on Joe's behalf. It was cheesy and a bit of a stretch to think that Ali would change her mind so easily, but it still could have worked if there were more chemistry between all the actors. That may come with time, however.
Is there still hope?
Despite all the problems, the show could still work with a fresh batch of well-written jokes. It has many of the basic elements needed for great TV. The actors are all terrific. Although not unique, the basic idea of two people being friends despite extreme differences is one that has worked well over many years, going back to "The Odd Couple."
All it's missing are some jokes worthy of the talent delivering them. Even the dumb boyfriend, Wyatt (Brandon Routh, who played Superman in "Superman Returns"), can be salvaged with a good zinger, despite having the worst running joke of the show concerning his heart pin (meaning he has a "heart on"). Two thumbs down for wasting a perfect opportunity with a great cast.