“Cupid” is the oddest duck of this year’s fall primetime slate, but it sounds a lot dumber on paper than it proves to be in execution. It is stylish, ethereal and fairly entertaining despite the preposterousness of the premise: a human Valentine is banished to Earth. And Jeremy Piven, far removed from “Ellen,” plays it like a young Richard Dreyfuss, full of mischief and swagger.
Suspending a considerable amount of disbelief is important before sitting down with the “Cupid” pilot, penned by series creator Rob Thomas. A therapist, Dr. Claire Allen (convincing work from Paula Marshall), is about to drop plans for a book on love and romance, thinking them dead. A colleague introduces the good doctor to a guy named Trevor Hale (Piven), who is staying in a local mental institution while claiming to be Cupid.
Dr. Allen doesn’t much believe this Cupid story (go figure), particularly when Cupe goes on about being booted from Mt. Olympus after growing stale in the art of love matchmaking through the 1980s and ’90s. Seems a lot of folks were getting divorced. And now he’s forced down to Earth to join 100 couples in finding “true love” before he’ll be allowed back onto the mountain.
During extensive therapy, a quarrelsome relationship develops between the skeptical shrink and the charming head case. He joins her singles group, but, having left his bow and supply of arrows back home, Cupid can’t just shoot at people and have the love flow. Rather he has to steer two people toward their dreamy destiny. It all seems so much easier on “Touched by an Angel.”
Our hero thus sets out to do the work of love, aided by Champ (Jeffrey D. Sams), a struggling actor with an attitude. Their first mating mission winds up coming apart at the seams.
If Cupid can end his purgatory by hitting the century mark, that might just mean 100 episodes and a syndication windfall. If that happens, Columbia TriStar TV and ABC will make sure a statue of Piven gets shipped to Mount Olympus.
Tech credits are exceptional, particularly Thomas Burstyn’s mesmerizing camera work.