A new romantic comedy called A to Z will premiere on television in early October, but in the meantime, NBC is trying to generate some buzz by offering the first episode online.
A to Z stars Ben Feldman, who played the emotionally fragile Ginsberg on Mad Men, opposite Cristin Milioti, known for her Broadway performance in Once as well as for showing up as the titular mother in the last season of How I Met Your Mother.
In this one, he's A (or Andrew), a bit of a nebbish, a sweet guy who believes in fate and destiny and that sort of thing, even though he works for a dating website where they prefer people not find "the one" so they can charge them to find another one, while she is Z (or Zelda), a lawyer who is a bit more practical and cynical. But they're both nice and charming and fairly adorable, and it's easy to root for them in episode A (or "A Is for Acquaintances") where we see them meet and spar a bit over whether he really saw her from afar at a concert years ago. We're told right from the get-go that they will hit it off well enough to date for "eight months, three weeks, five days and one hour." But after that... Whether they get married or it's just Splitsville, we'll have to get all the way through episode Z to find out. Or, as NBC frames the question, "Is it true love forever or just a detour in destiny?"
Both performers are up for it and if it was just the two of them, A to Z would be hitting on more cylinders. Narration from Katey Sagal is also pleasant enough. Unfortunately, the supporting characters are right out of Sitcom Central Casting, so they are each saddled with a slutty, annoying best friend -- hers is a not-very-bright party girl who's all about snaring men, played by Lenora Crichlow, while his is a slobbery, sloppy wannabe player always looking to score with the chicks, played by Henry Zebrowski. Andrew also has an uptight, super-controlling lady boss called Big Bird, played by Christina Kirk, just so all the stereotypes are covered.
Do I want to see what zany hijinks and K-Razy misunderstandings these second bananas will cause for the sparkly main couple? No, actually, I don't. Which is a shame, because Feldman and Milioti are about as cute as it gets. And after he maimed himself and got sent off to the psych ward on Mad Men and she got bumped off on HIMYM, they both deserve to play solid, compelling characters who stick around for awhile. And have better friends.
I suppose I can hope that the main premise -- what will the letters of the alphabet reveal for Andrew and Zelda at the end of their 8:3:5:1 term? -- is intriguing enough to keep me around. And that somebody decides to replace the supporting players.
A to Z premieres on NBC on October 2. In the meantime, you can check out the first episode here to see if it's your kind of thing.