Review: ‘Significant Others’

Oh, puh-leeze. This Fox soaper from the "Party of Five" creative team of Amy Lippman and Christopher Keyser weaves the cloying saga of a group of twentysomethings in Los Angeles who wouldn't know a real problem if it jumped up and bit them in the angst.

Oh, puh-leeze. This Fox soaper from the “Party of Five” creative team of Amy Lippman and Christopher Keyser weaves the cloying saga of a group of twentysomethings in Los Angeles who wouldn’t know a real problem if it jumped up and bit them in the angst. They whine, they rant, they carry on as only young idealists who fancy themselves the center of the universe can. They didn’t invent the concept of immature lust, they just think they did. “Significant Dullards” is more like it.

The semi-attractive clan suffering midlife crises 25 years prematurely is headed in “Significant Others” by an odd threesome of lifelong friends named Campbell (Eion Bailey), Henry (Scott Bairstow) and Nell (Jennifer Garner). Campbell, no doubt voted the Boy Most Likely to Be Slapped Silly in high school, got his dander up during scene one in last Wednesday’s pilot when he came home to find Henry and Nell boffing like banshees on the futon.

“This changes everything!” Campbell fumes. Uh, why? Has sex suddenly been banned among the self-important?

Directed with joint senses of sensitivity and melodrama by Scott Winant, the debut teleplay from Lippman and Keyser is a mass of quick-cuts and fadeouts, rather like a soft-focus “Seinfeld” minus the irony. It doesn’t have scenes, it has scene-ettes.

Campbell basically goes around being a jerk early on. Petulance is his general way of relating to his fellow man. And he shares that special sense of doom when his playboy older brother Ben (Michael Weatherly) — the good boy who went into the brassiere (!) business run by dad (Richard Masur) and mom (Jennifer Savidge) — decides to marry Campbell’s ex-girlfriend Jane (Elizabeth Mitchell). This forces Campbell to take some real action: he goes and shoots pool.

Meanwhile, the commitment-phobic Nell and the overanalytic Henry move in together and then break up in what seems a matter of minutes. Did I mention that Henry writes porn for an X-rated website? And that by the end of episode one he’s putting moves on a married porn priestess named Charlotte (Gigi Rice)? Ouch.

Things grow progressively more absurd in tonight’s second hour when the complaining Campbell fights with his dad over a $5,500 loan that he needs to make a children’s video about farm animals. Honest.

Second seg also manages to reduce to near-irrelevance the purported final birthday party of an HIV-positive man. But then, little in “Significant Others” particularly rings true. With this short-order hour, Keyser and Lippman have concocted a one-note world where the only pronouns uttered are “I,” “me” and “we.” Even if it’s partially accurate, this is not a place we would want to hang out. Unless we’re feeling especially self-loathing.

Tech credits are sharp in spite of it all.

Significant Others

Drama; Fox, Wed. March 11 and 18, 9 p.m

Production

Filmed in Hollywood by Keyser/Lippman Prods. in association with Columbia TriStar TV. Executive producers, Amy Lippman, Chris-topher Keyser; producer, Paul Marks; director, Scott Winant; writers, Lippman, Keyser.

Crew

Camera, Michael Spiller; editor, David Dworetzky ; music, Danny Lux, John McCullough; production designer, Bill Eigenbrodt; sound, Mark Ulano; casting, Susan Edelman, Mary V. Buck. 60 MIN.

With

Campbell - Eion Bailey Nell - Jennifer Garner Henry - Scott Bairstow Ben - Michael Weatherly Jane - Elizabeth Mitchell Charlotte - Gigi Rice Leonard - Richard Masur Bev - Jennifer Savidge
Camera, Michael Spiller; editor, David Dworetzky ; music, Danny Lux, John McCullough; production designer, Bill Eigenbrodt; sound, Mark Ulano; casting, Susan Edelman, Mary V. Buck. 60 MIN.
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