Ben and Kate: New FOX Comedy; Is It Worth Watching?

FOX TV series Ben and KateFOX’s first new sitcom of the fall season, Ben and Kate, premieres tonight and the network has sandwiched it between episodes of New Girl. Is this new TV series worth your time or should it be cancelled and moved quickly to the TV graveyard?

Ben and Kate revolves around two very different adult siblings. Ben is a free spirit and screw up while Kate is very straight-laced and responsible. He moves in to help take care of her daughter and to help Kate loosen up a bit. She meanwhile helps get him a little more grounded. The sitcom stars Dakota Johnson, Nat Faxon, Lucy Punch, Maggie Elizabeth Jones, and Echo Kellum.

Is it worth watching? Here’s what some of the critics think:

Boston Globe: “Supporting characters are essential in this kind of casual comedy, and Ben and Kate provides a pair of appealing second bananas… Kellum plays the dumb guy without obviousness, which is nice for a change. But British actress Lucy Punch delivers the flashier and more amusing supporting turn as BJ, a cocktail waitress who works with Kate. She is a scene-stealer — but a courteous one, more like a scene-borrower — as she gives Kate reams of bad advice… Punch’s comic material emanates out of knowledge of the actress and BJ; it’s not the kind of common sitcom repartee by joke-obsessed writers in a room, detached from the life of the characters being created on screen. And it’s the kind of material that gives Ben and Kate a lot of promise.”

TIME: “The first episode is hardly perfect, but it feels lived-in, like the characters have actual, pre-existing relationships and reasons to like one another. For my money, this character-first approach may give Ben and Kate more room to grow, more convincingly, than [The Mindy Project].

NY Times:Ben and Kate has charm, but the brother-sister dynamic has built-in limitations. It’s hard to see how the series can sustain such a binding premise.”

Salt Lake Tribune: “Have you ever been in a room when someone tells a joke and, while some people laugh, you’re wondering why anyone would think it’s funny? That’s the situation I find myself in with Ben and Kate. Some people seem to like this show, which puzzles me because I found it entirely unfunny.”

LA Times: “Ben and Kate is a sweet, smart new show from Fox that may turn out to be the best new comedy of the fall season. Certainly, it is the most original, combining silly, often physical humor with the more sensitive homespun sort while also showcasing one of the most fascinating yet under-used relationships on TV: a brother and sister.”

San Francisco Chronicle: “Ben and Kate may not need retooling – in fact, the show’s delicate charm would be endangered by an attempt to fix what isn’t broken. Still, audiences may have to exercise patience – it took me two screenings of the pilot to get a solid purchase on it. At least, at the outset, their interest will be piqued by the goofy likability of the main characters. Other shows have started with less.

NY Daily News: “It’s okay that Ben Fox is annoying. It’s less okay that when he’s not annoying, he’s suddenly and magically perfect… In 22 minutes, Annoying Ben becomes Saint Ben. Unless Ben and Kate can find him a middle gear and make it work, the viewer will become Willie Whiplash.”

AV Club: “I didn’t find Ben And Kate outright, LOL-filled, but with a show like this, that’s okay. The lack of guffaws may be seen as one of the supposed determinants of toning down a ostensibly wacky character, but it also makes them bearable to be around when the initial pratfalls start falling flat (see, again: Stinson, Barney). For a show like Ben And Kate, it’s less important to me that I’m hit with laugh line upon laugh line because I want to continue to be with these characters and see them progress. They have plenty of time to make me laugh later on.”

What do you think? Have you watched the Ben and Kate TV show? Will you watch again? Would you recommend it to a friend?

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