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From the Couch: “Mad Love”

CBS has somehow had a lot of comedic success as of late, becoming a sitcom juggernaut even when, with a few exceptions, most are critical failures.

One of those exceptions is “How I Met Your Mother,” and CBS obviously kept that in mind when developing its most recent sitcom, “Mad Love.”

“Mad Love” has all the right makings to be a good show – a great cast, a decent enough premise, a desirable timeslot. CBS even coincided the premiere date with Valentine’s Day, in hopes of drawing a love-struck audience because nothing says Valentine’s Day like watching unrealistic meet-cutes.

Set in New York, though obviously not shot there, “Mad Love” opens with its two main characters, Ben (Jason Biggs) and Kate (Sarah Chalke) having a fateful encounter atop the Empire State Building. They decide to bring their best friends along for a date later that night, because who doesn’t want their best friends tagging along on a first date?

After her guest stint on “How I Met Your Mother,” Chalke has easily had the best  career after “Scrubs,” and it’s good to see Biggs in something after he essentially faded to oblivion after the early 2000s. Neither, though, is given enough to do to match their talents, mostly just having to stare longingly into each other’s eyes and passionately kiss.

The real stars are their best friends, Larry (Tyler Labine, “Reaper”) and Connie (Judy Greer, “Arrested Development,” “27 Dresses”). It seems certain Ben and Kate will have a relatively strong relationship, though they may hit some  cliched obstacles along the way, and the actual heart of the show will rest in Larry and Connie’s hands.

Greer has made the Hollywood rounds on both big and small screens and has a lock as the go-to best friend, something she does so well. She and Labine steal the show, with the romance between Kate and Ben secondary to their fighting and barb-throwing.

The problem with “Mad Love” isn’t poor chemistry, which is there in excess, or poor execution, because it’s not bad. It’s just boring. Hopefully, given time, it can grow into an interesting sitcom that just needs to find its comedic groove, as most new shows do.

Unlike other new midseason comedies, “Mad Love” has a lot of potential for growth and could be the perfect post-“How I Met Your Mother” cool down. Until it reaches that point, it’s an extremely inoffensive, comfortable time-filler.

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