EDITORIAL NOTE: To understand how we do our reviews, please refer to our review of Revolution, here.
What happens when an exuberant, irresponsible dreamer who always says “yes” moves in with his overly responsible little sister to help raise her five-year-old daughter? BEN AND KATE, a new single-camera young ensemble comedy, follows these odd-couple siblings as they push each other out of their comfort zones and into real life. KATE FOX (Dakota Johnson, “The Social Network”) followed the rules all her life…until she got pregnant in college and dropped out just shy of graduation. After the birth of her daughter, MADDIE (Maggie Jones, “We Bought a Zoo,” “Footloose”), Kate put her twenties on hold. Now working as a bar manager to make ends meet and maximize her time with five-year-old Maddie, she’s uber-prepared for every possible catastrophe – except for the arrival of her older brother, BEN FOX (Nat Faxon, “Bad Teacher”). Ben likes trouble a lot more than his sister does. His infectious energy makes you want to follow him into any number of bad ideas. He’ll totally screw up your life, but somehow, you’ll feel good about it. Where Kate is all about planning and preparing, Ben is big on spontaneity and out-of-the-box ideas. But don’t let the Velcro wallet fool you – he’ll probably be a millionaire someday. When Ben comes to crash on Kate’s couch for a few days, he finds a sad state of affairs. Kate’s surviving, but not living. Ben realizes that for the first time in their lives, Kate needs hishelp and he’s determined to bring some much-needed chaos into her overly stable world. He starts by offering to help look after Maddie so Kate can get back to experiencing her mid-twenties and makingmistakes, since the one real “mistake” she’s made turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to her. Always there to help with Ben’s crazy schemes is his partner-in-crime, TOMMY (newcomer Echo Kellum), who worships Ben like a hero and nurses a serious crush on Kate. Kate’s British best friend, BJ (Lucy Punch, “Bad Teacher”), is a cocktail waitress at the bar that Kate manages and an all-around hot mess who would do anything for Kate, even if her advice is often questionable and occasionally illegal. From writer/executive producer Dana Fox (NEW GIRL, “What Happens in Vegas”) and executive producer/director Jake Kasdan (NEW GIRL, “Bad Teacher”), BEN AND KATE is a heartwarming story of deeply mismatched siblings: a sister who needs to go for her dreams and a brother who needs to get his head out of the clouds. – FOX
Score: 83 out of 100
Initial Impressions (June 5, 2012): As we noted with NBC’s Next Caller, it’s never a good sign when you start your show description with, “What happens when ________ , ” but on the upside this show is noticeably Dane Cook-free. On the other upside, this show looks incredibly charming and really looks like it’s destined to be a big a hit for FOX. All of the sudden, FOX has seemed to have figured out comedies.
Shawn: A couple of years ago, we made a big mistake with our initial assessment of Raising Hope, expecting it to be an idiotic and offensive shi*tfest and were so pleasantly surprised by the series that it made us rethink how we approach comedies. We still hate them, in general, but we’re a little less knee-jerk than we used to be. This new attitude made it very easy to predict that Ben and Kate would be a winner, but we didn’t expect it to be as good as it really is.
Speaking of Raising Hope, Ben and Kate reminds us a lot of the comedy series and also a lot like New Girl, focusing much more on character development and the relationships among the characters than the different situations of the week. All of the characters on the show are incredibly funny and we laughed regularly through the pilot.
Nat Faxon is absolutely hilarious as Ben. He reminds us a lot of Steve Carell’s Michael Scott on The Office, albeit without the awkward idiot factor. Dakota Johnson provides the adult balance and level-head to the pair and Lucy Punch is absolutely brilliant and hilarious as Kate’s best friend B.J. Cannot say enough about Ben and Kate. It’s charming, heart-warming and hilarious and the pilot made us hungry for the next episode.
Chance of Renewal: 90%
FOX and their idiotic audience can be weird some times with their comedies so though we expect this to be a hit, there is a bit of a chance that a disaster could happen but that’s unlikely being the lead-out for New Girl.
Watch full episodes of Ben and Kate, here.