Look up any of the promotional material or reviews for CBS' new sitcom 'Partners' and you'll read all about how series characters Joe and Louis are based on real-life best friends and show creators and writers David Kohan and Max Mutchnick. Having created the wildly-successful 'Will & Grace,' it would seem that the duo has gone mad with power. Regardless of it's beginnings, 'Partners' is a hackneyed, annoying, bloodless comedy with offensively stereotypical characters and forced puns standing in for humor. In fact, taking the pilot episode from top to bottom, one would be hard-pressed to come up with something that the show does well.
Joe and Louis are life-long best friends and partners at the same architectural firm. Joe is straight and Louis is gay; it would seem the writers believed that this fact was sufficient to carry a series. While Joe (played by 'Numb3rs' David Krumholtz) is straight and, of course, plays the straight-man in the comedic duo, Louis (played by Michael Urie from 'Ugly Betty') is more like a homosexual cartoon character, reminiscent of the overplayed Jack on 'Will & Grace.'
Besides the fact that I've never met a gay man who fully lives into this absurd sitcom stereotype, the real tragedy of 'Partners' is the complete lack of nuance or originality in the situation or the dialogue. Louis is so detestable and annoying that Joe notes halfway through the episode that the cost of being his friend outweighs the benefit; audiences likely already reached that conclusion by the initial commercial break. Self-centered and overbearing, Louis displays absolutely no likable qualities either as a person or as a television character and watching his scenes is an endurance exercise. Joe, handled by the usually-capable Krumholtz, is not even a character; Joe is a suit that happens to be in the same room while Louis falls over himself with zingers. There is no chemistry between Krumholtz and Urie and even less between Joe and Louis as friends.
But that only accounts for two of the four main characters on this train-wreck. Joe is dating Ali, a woman who is beautiful and... well, that's the only character trait she is given. Ali is as empty as Joe and merely exists as a plot device--the fact that the very first scene we are ever offered between Joe and Ali as a couple includes a marriage proposal (which is completely impossible to mustre any emotion over, as it happens seconds into their introduction) shows a complete lack of understanding of basic story structure on the part of the episode's writing team. Not only can we not care about the purported love between these characters, we can't see it; nothing in the acting or the dialogue shows any reason why these people would care enough to say hello let alone marry. Writing aside, Ali is played by Sophia Bush from 'One Tree Hill,' who is seemingly trying her damndest to top Urie for the honor of most-annoying-character-on-television.
Which brings us to the fourth character, the loving boyfriend of the unbelievable Louis: Wyatt, played by former-Superman Brandon Routh. I actually like Routh as an actor; although 'Superman Returns' was abysmal, Routh's performances in 'Scott Pilgrim vs The World' and 'Dylan Dog: Dead of Night' showed an actor with energy, timing, and attitude. Sadly, none of these traits exist in 'Partners' Wyatt: he is a humorless moron who shows no emotion and cannot even be considered a character. In fact, while trying to think of a way to describe Wyatt, the only thing that comes to mind is the image on the door of a public men's washroom. That is all of the characterization Wyatt has been given by Kohan and Mutchnick--he is a man. He can stand.
None of the jokes in 'Partners' are witty or new and even the music is jarring and annoying. The clapping that leads in to commercial breaks is harsh and repetitive, but you are still relieved to hear it--it means that commericals will follow, which will invariably be funnier and more entertaining than the crap you've just been made to sit through.
I love TVRage.com and I love writing these reviews, but watching this episode of 'Partners' made me jealous of each and every one of you readers: you were able to change the channel. 'Partners' is the worst episode of anything that I have ever seen and there is nothing included therein that gives me any reason to believe it will improve in episodes to come.
FINAL GRADE: F -