Monday, September 19, 2011

New TV Roundup - Free Agents

NBC is bringing another dysfunctional workplace rom-com to our TVs this Fall with Free Agents. Based on a Britcom of the same name, the show stars the always lovable Hank Azaria as Alex a middle aged guy who is trying to put his life back together after a divorce, by most significantly. getting back into the dating scene. His major complication, other than the fact that he's a complete wreck a lot of the time, an idiot with women, and cries at the drop of a hat, is his co-worker Helen, played by Kathryn Hahn. After a drunken one night stand the two realize that maybe they can't keep it strictly professional anymore as an attraction builds. But Helen is dealing with her own problems as she works through the death of her fiancee a year ago, and tries to put her own life back on track. So the question remains can these two dysfunctional people get over themselves enough, to find each other and make a relationship work?

I have to admit, I really didn't expect to like Free Agents. Something about the trailer seemed predictable to me, and the subject matter isn't especially relatable since I'm happily married, but I have to say I was really pleasantly surprised by the pilot to this show. The writing is clever, the story isn't hackneyed at all, and most importantly the actors and characters are totally sympathetic, even in their personal neurosis. The main actors give really strong performances, never making light of their problems, in the context of the show these characters are acting exactly how they should. Ultimately that means that the laughs that are earned, and amazingly they really are earned, through the characters rather than the plot are totally genuine.

Additionally I have to mention the wonderful supporting cast here, Anthony Stewart Head plays the absent minded, and somewhat lurid boss of the PR firm where the characters work, in a role that he actually originated in the original British version of the show. And comedians Mo Mandel and Al Magrigal play Alex's co-workers trying to help him get back on the dating horse. There is a lot of comedic chemistry on screen and I think its due to these actors being real pros, and of course some really strong writing.

I'm interested to see where the story goes from here, and intend to watch more. I'd recommend you check it out too. The pilot for Free Agents is on Hulu now, and the show will run on Wednesdays alongside Up All Night.

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