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From the Couch: “Perfect Couples”

NBC’s Thursday night lineup used to be billed as “Must See TV.”

In its heyday, it was home to “Friends” and “Seinfeld,” the two starting points for almost every other failed comedy NBC ever produced. While it has yet to reach that rare critical and commercial success again, it has seen a recent resurgence.

Three of its shows (“Parks and Recreation,” “30 Rock” and “Community”) draw great reviews, lots of laughs and a decent audience. One brings the most eyes (“The Office”) and the other is just offensively there (“Outsourced”).

With the return of “Parks and Rec” in January, NBC had a potential 3-hour comedy block on its hands and added “Perfect Couples,” a seemingly harmless, standard relationship focused sitcom.

Usually harmless would be enough to fill the gap between “Community” and “The Office,” but in the case of “Perfect Couples,” harmless becomes a muddled mess of dull, confusing and strange.

The show revolves around three different couples, each being extremely stereotypical. One constantly fights, presumably for the crazy makeup sex, one is seemingly perfect and the final one is average and normal.

The premise itself is a tired one, and lackluster jokes, a barrage of poorly handled clichés and weak timing don’t make it any better. To watch an entire episode is exhausting.

One half of the “perfect” couple is Olivia Munn, the sex symbol who rose to stardom for being a hot girl that talks about nerdy things. It’s a shame she wasn’t cast as that; it seems to be the only role she can actually hold, as she is completely terrible and screechy as Leigh.

The rest of the cast fits alright, but no one would make the material work. Mary Elizabeth Ellis and David Walton, the crazy couple, certainly have the brightest future, but are given such weak material to work with that their chemistry and comedic chops are just a waste.

One of the oddest parts of the show is its lack of a laugh track. Usually, laugh tracks are a nuisance, giggling all too often at things that aren’t actually funny, but with “Perfect Couples” it’s hard to distinguish between what is funny, what is awkward and what is just plain dumb. Unfortunately for the show, most of the jokes fall in the latter category.

As far as the future goes for “Perfect Couples,” it will probably last much longer than it should, following the footsteps of “Outsourced” because of where it falls in the lineup. If NBC executives knew what was best for them, (and they never do) they would put the lazy audience who doesn’t want to change the channel between shows out of their misery and cancel it already.

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