Jenny Bicks has packed her “Sex and the City” sensibilities and moved them to network primetime where “Leap of Faith” will certainly be the first guinea pig as to whether an HBO series can be adapted for the family hour. “Leap” opens like a bad carbon copy of “Sex and the City” as four single friends – all of them less engaging and less trendy than the “City” quartet — drink al fresco in Manhattan, relationships and sex their only topics. As the pilot progresses, however, there’s a glimmer that “Leap” may come into its own, provided the writing gets a little sharper and the characters continue to get fleshed out.
Sarah Paulson plays Faith Wardwell, an advertising executive, less than two weeks away from her wedding. She meets an actor, Dan (played with Brad Pitt affectations by Brad Rowe), and immediately they jump into the sack. Only one thing to do, now: Tell all her friends. Tell everyone at the bridal shower. And then sleep with him again. Then she tells the groom-to-be, who lays skid marks as he bolts the relationship. Ah, to be single again.
One imagines “Leap” will be documenting the revolving doors on the bedrooms of Faith and Patty (Lisa Edelstein), whose first conquest in the opening two episodes is the guy who delivers coffee to the office. They share their foibles with Faith’s neighbor Cynthia (Regina King), who is “practically running Calvin Klein,” and a T-shirt and jeans “Avenue D” kind of guy, Andy (Ken Marino).
Observing it all are the ad agency boss Lucas (comfortably played by Tim Meadows), who lords over the shenanigans of his two charges with well-placed verbal darts, and Faith’s mom Cricket (Jill Clayburgh), who is seeing all of dreams crushed with the wedding cancellation. By having a married sister with a child, Faith is suddenly a very dark sheep.
In the first two episodes, which do possess a convincing Manhattan energy, “Leap of Faith” asserts itself as a serious yet comical alternative to the unreal singles world of shows such as “Friends.” Cast is likeable enough and as an ensemble they are jelling reasonably well at an early juncture. None of the actors, though, possess that extra special charisma and the writing has yet to explicitly define each character’s ticks — beyond the fact that they all like sex and Faith enjoys the Ice Capades. King’s Cynthia, the no-nonsense member of the group, seems to hold the most potential.
Nicole Holofcener’s direction takes a few too many visual cues from “Sex and the City,” which reinforces the notion that this is a knockoff. Then again, it’s a nice respite from the bulk of banal sitcom directing already on the networks.