Blame "Modern Family," but sitcoms containing a trio of couples appear to be much in demand this season, whether differentiated by age (ABC's "Better With You") or, in the case of "Perfect Couples," relationship style. Seizing on the platform provided by "The Sing-Off" finale, NBC will preview the show a month before its scheduled Thursday-night arrival as part of an expanded comedy block. But the two episodes made available to critics (not the later one that's being teased) reveal another goofy but wholly undistinguished half-hour that is, to put it mildly, less than perfect.
At the center of the sextet are Dave (Kyle Bornheimer) and Julia ("FlashForward's" Christine Woods), who brag in the pilot about being more normal than their pals. Of course, that's not particularly difficult, since the other couples are Dave's buddy and co-worker Vance (David Walton) and his girlfriend Amy (Mary Elizabeth Ellis), whose interaction runs wildly hot and cold; and Julia's brother Rex (Hayes MacArthur) and his significant other Leigh (the suddenly ubiquitous Olivia Munn), who consider themselves relationship gurus and thus spout a constant stream of New Age, touchy-feely babble.
Created by "Friends" alum Scott Silveri and "30 Rock's" Jon Pollack, the only resemblance to the former NBC hit is the number of characters evenly divided by gender. Of course, "Coupling" offered up a youthful six-pack as well, so nobody should get too excited just yet.
As crafted, "Couples" only really seems to come up with one insight -- that guys, even as they hit their early 30s, remain immature louts, and women are flat-out crazy. Or two-thirds of them are, anyway.
With this NBC show, Bornheimer completes a sitcom hat trick in the role of amiable schlub, preceded by CBS' much better "Worst Week" and ABC's short-lived Alyssa Milano vehicle "Romantically Challenged." He's the best thing "Couples" has going for it, and that's hardly enough incentive for viewers to turn what amounts to a hastily scheduled speed date into a one-night stand, much less a full-blown relationship.