NBC has done it again: Placing an inept half hour comedy in the token “Must See TV Thursday” 8:30 9 p.m. timeslot between powerhouses “Friends” and “Will & Grace,” where by the grace of the Ratings God, the show will only perform well because of said slot. Remember “Jesse?” That show lasted far beyond the usual turn for a bad sitcom. Now taking a turn in the coveted spot is “Leap of Faith,” a fashionably lame comedy about another New York single girl who uses a close-knit group of friends to stand in for failed relationships with the opposite sex.
Created by former “Sex in the City” producer Jenny Bicks, “Leap of Faith” combines the female machinations of Carrie and company with a poor use of references to classic comedies like “Laverne & Shirley.” In last week”s premiere episode, Faith (Sarah Paulson, “Jack & Jill”) is about to marry David who seems like the perfect guy: “He”s like a Volvo: Safe, reliable and popular.” After a panic attack in Bergdorf”s while picking china, Faith questions this new life set before her, in which she must change her entire lifestyle in order to accommodate her fianc”s old-fashioned beliefs. When she meets a handsome actor, Dan (Brad Rowe, “Wasteland”), during a casting call for a commercial she wrote, Faith immediately becomes attracted to him yada, yada, yada they sleep together and poof no more wedding.
Faith leans on her over-sexed gal pal Patty (Lisa Edelstein, “Ally McBeal”) during her time of crisis, but Patty”s words of wisdom often run along the lines of why monogamy is bad and where the next “stud” will come from. The other two-dimensional characters rounding out the familiar foursome are the career-driven, married Calvin Klein executive Cynthia (Regina King, “Jerry Maguire”), and Rolling Stone reporter Andy (Ken Marino, last seen as Joey”s professor on “Dawson”s Creek”), who can only be described as a dog among men. While each friend has a different perspective for our fateful Faith, none of them appear to have any desire to actually shape up their own lives, and they basically sit around drinking in the local bar trying to forget their troubles.
While bits and pieces of genuine comedy appear now and then, there is no real regard for innovation, leaving only a “been there, done that” feel. The advertising agency that Faith and Patty work for is just as convoluted as the plot, made more so by the appearance of “Saturday Night Live” veteran Tim Meadows. His dry sarcasm barely leaves an imprint in the profuse dreck that propagates within the show. Even the over the top, “casual” references to having sex (“sex hair,” “mindless sex”) are dull. Unfortunately, NBC has carefully “handled the merchandise” with this one, and we can look forward to many more episodes of analyzing Faith and friends” flaws and sex drives. Skip the “Leap” and head to HBO for some real provocative sex talk.