TV Review: ‘Partners’

Partners TV Review FX

Every bit as generic as its title, “Partners” is the latest big-name-toplined (Kelsey Grammer, Martin Lawrence) throwback, courtesy of Debmar-Mercury’s 10/90 model, which predicates whether a series runs 100 episodes on the first batch meeting certain ratings benchmarks. Like “Anger Management,” featuring Charlie Sheen, the show itself is practically an afterthought, inasmuch as it’s designed to feel like an instant rerun — something that can help fill the sitcom-starved syndication pipeline. But yikes, watching these two comedy veterans trying to keep such a leaky, woefully flat vehicle afloat is more depressing than nostalgic.

Grammer plays Allen Braddock, an ethics-challenged lawyer being fired from dad’s influential law firm for reasons unknown as the pilot opens. Desperate for a job, he by chance encounters Marcus Jackson (Lawrence), a community activist who operates a law practice out of his basement, in a house he shares with his mother (Telma Hopkins), daughter (Daniele Watts) and for all intents and purposes, assistant (“The Book of Mormon’s” Rory O’Malley).

Allen offers to assist Marcus with his divorce settlement, in exchange for a place to hang his shingle. Yet the goal of establishing them as a mismatched pair in the pilot (written and run by sitcom veterans Robert L. Boyett and Robert Horn), as well as a subsequent episode, proves stale and weakly defined from the get-go — especially in the latter, when the two masquerade as a gay couple who want to get married on behalf of a client.

In what feels like a vague echo of “Cheers” (although any comparison should go no further), Allen’s younger trophy wife goes unseen, though his teenage stepdaughter (McKaley Miller) makes periodic appearances, presumably as a demographic pander more than anything else.

Grammer, Lawrence and Hopkins have certainly been around this block, but it’s just too damn hard to make any hay with lines like, “I can tell somebody’s judgmental just by looking at them,” or Allen’s assertion that Marcus’ misguided ethics are “the reason you’re taking it in the assets.”

Mostly, the 10/90 shows — hitching their wagons to sitcom veterans willing to bet on themselves and cash in should they succeed — have been birthed to fill a void. With fewer comedies breaking out on the major networks, TV stations and cable channels need product to help flesh out their lineups.

Fair enough. What remains a mystery is why the purveyors seem so committed to producing sitcoms that, other than being a trifle more risque, would have been inordinately banal back in the 1990s. By that measure, even if “Partners” passes the requisite bar to extend its run, it’s not much of an asset.

 

TV Review: 'Partners'

(Series; FX, Mon. Aug. 4, 9 p.m.)

Production

Produced by Robert L. Boyett Prods., Robert Horn Prods., Runteldat and Grammnet NH Prods. in association with Lionsgate Television, and distributed by Debmar-Mercury.

Crew

Executive producers, Robert L. Boyett, Robert Horn, Brian Sher, Stella Bulochnikov-Sher, Michael Green, Sam Maydew, Kelsey Grammer, Martin Lawrence; co-executive producers, Les Firestein, Warren Hutcherson, Bob Keyes, Doug Keyes; producers, Tony Carey, Kelly Sandefur, Rae Proctor, Rob Lawrence; director, Grammer; writers, Boyett, Horn; camera, Gregg Heschong; production designer, Jerry Dunn; editors, Jim Miley, Sandefur; music, Bennett Salvay; casting, Alexis Koczara. 30 MIN.

Cast

Kelsey Grammer, Martin Lawrence, Telma Hopkins, Daniele Watts, Rory O’Malley, McKaley Miller, Edi Patterson

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  1. dcbentley says:

    Just here to ‘ditto’ the comments about the laugh track. Sure the gags were not really slapstick funny, but the laugh track did seem to have a hair trigger on it, like a mediocre 70’s sitcom. I watched about fifteen minutes, couldn’t stand it anymore.
    The writing was dated, weak, predictable and well below the proven capacity of both of the stars.
    I swear it was like watching the fading last few episodes of ‘Night Court.’

  2. me says:

    I think it’s real life stuff. No screaming no bad drama. Both men are funny and compliment each others style.

  3. ghostinthezoid says:

    this is really lame. the background laughter is unnecessary, its so boring and the jokes are terrible, seems like they don’t care about the script they just really need the money.

  4. John says:

    Lame and predictable from the first time I saw a preview.

  5. Barb says:

    I for one will not be watching this show. I would like to see if they have the courage to treat
    the Muslim religion with the same disrespect as they did the Catholic Church.

  6. Tv Watcher says:

    Love both lead actors, but i predict this will not last. The writing is flat, predictable, and…dare i say it, not very funny. If you can’t make it work with Martin Lawrence delivering your lines, you need to go back to the drawing board. Kelsey G phones it in, and you can almost feel him missing the pithy, intellectual lines he had the good fortune to recite during Frasier. It’s like both are acting thru quicksand.

  7. John Thomas Howe says:

    This Sit Com Partners has a real strong edge to do some shaking. Grammer and Lawrence are true comedy talents. Together I can see some future creative comedy chemistry here with these two. Writers, go a little more on the edge but with logic. Write more funny lines. This show can be really a hit. The acting with all actors are very well. If the writers think hard here, they are sitting on mountain of lawyers comedy, not pain, comedy. I love Sit Coms and studied them for years. If I can help, make some contact. All the best to Mr. Lawrence and Mr. Grammer. .

  8. J Klement says:

    Why do many new TV shows that wish to be classified as comedy shows ruin themselves by having phony laugh tracks that provide fake laughter at nearly every sentence. A large turn off!

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