Ben and Kate | TV Review
After the tremendous success of last season's sitcom darling, New Girl, it's no surprise that Fox would seek to expand its comedy offerings. Ben and Kate comes from the mind of former New Girl producer Dana Fox and is loosely based on her relationship with her brother. Fueled by a charismatic ensemble, this new show is quite the charmer.
Growing up, siblings Ben (Nat Faxon) and Kate (Dakota Johnson) relied on each other due to parents that spent more time arguing than nurturing their children. As they got older, Kate was forced to grow up quickly when a surprise pregnancy turned her into a single mom, while Ben never really grew up at all. Now Kate is struggling with returning to the dating pool for the first time since her daughter Maddie (Maggie Elizabeth Jones) was born, while Ben has come home for a brief visit to check up on a long-lost love. As the two turn to each other for help, they realize how much better they function as a family unit.
Ben and Kate isn't one of those new shows that's sprung up fully formed. The pilot feels a bit wobbly, frequently teetering on being a little too cute for its own good, but it shows a lot of potential and that's largely due to an incredibly talented cast. Faxon (fresh off an Oscar win for writing The Descendants) helps keep Ben grounded and likable, even when he's being utterly ridiculous. Similarly, Kate could have easily come off as a bit of a doormat, but Johnson gives her a quiet and sweet competence. And then there's the third rail that the child star can be, but with the casting of the effortlessly adorable Jones (who managed to steal the show from the fuzzy animals in We Bought a Zoo), Maddie is sure to bring a lot to the show. Just in case the core three weren't enough, the fabulous Lucy Punch is the icing on top of the comedy cake as Kate's overly sexualized co-worker. There are enough laughs in the first episode, combined with a lot of solid talent, that Ben and Kate looks to be one of the more promising new comedies of the fall.
Ben and Kate airs Tuesdays at 7:30pm on FOX.