Skip to main content

Heavenly Heart Attack: An Advance Review of ABC's "Cupid"

A lot of what goes right with love can be attributed to Cupid (a lot of what goes wrong can be too). After all, as the myth tells us, it's his arrows that strike the hearts of true lovers and unites them. He's a cosmic matchmaker with a penchant for archery, really.

It's no surprise then that so many writers have taken inspiration from the Cupid/Eros mythology and sought to use the deity as the springboard for all sorts of romantic-related mischief.

Rob Thomas is one such writer. He had a short-lived series entitled Cupid on ABC in 1998 which starred Jeremy Piven as Trevor Hale, a man claiming to be the ancient deity stranded on Earth until he can complete his penance, bringing 100 couples together, and Paula Marshall as Claire Allen, a psychologist who is assigned to keep an eye on Trevor. The series was canceled after just one season. And, for all accounts and purposes, that seemed to be the end of Thomas' Cupid. Until now.

ABC is once again launching Cupid with Rob Thomas at the helm. Tonight, in fact. This time around, the possible-love god (now called Trevor Pierce) is played by Bobby Cannavale (Cold Case), taking over for the dynamic Piven, while Sarah Paulson (Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip) replaces Marshall as Claire. And this Cupid shifts the action from Chicago to New York (though the original pilot script set the action in Los Angeles), where the series is shot.

Other than the casting changes, the premise remains the same: Cannavale's Trevor either is the ancient god of love... or he's a crazy man with delusions of grandeur whose belief in his deityhood manage to bring people together. But the one heart he can't melt seems to be that of his psychologist, Claire McCrae (Paulson) who is a relationship expert and self-help author who seems to lack anything resembling love in her life. Once again, Trevor must unite 100 couples in true love before he can return to Mount Olympus.

Rounding out the cast are Rick Gomez (What About Brian) and Camile Guaty (Prison Break), who play siblings Felix and Lita, owners of Tres Equis Cantina, who rent Trevor a room above the bar. Romantic hijinx ensue.

Or they should, anyway. In the hands of Piven and Marshall, Trevor and Claire had an easy sexual tension that thrived on the screwball banter between them. Here, Cannavale and Paulson don't charm as they should. Their Trevor and Claire seem about as fun as a heart attack and have virtually no chemistry together whatsoever. Which makes the series rather painful to watch as they engage in the sort of staged cookie-cutter cuteness that seems far more clever on the page than it does on the screen.

It's hard to care about Cannavale's Trevor, especially as he seems so woefully miscast in the first place. Whereas Piven brought a manic energy to the role, Cannavale seems like he's going through the motions, not a man who might be Cupid but perhaps one who's seen a few too many cartoon Cupids over the years. Claire meanwhile has no place overseeing a singles support group or really giving out any advice about love or relationships; she seems to frigid and icy-cold dull that it's hard to imagine even the real Cupid being able to pierce her shield with his bow and arrow.

Which is a real problem, especially when fans of the original series--which aired not all that long ago--still have images of a very specific Trevor and Claire in their minds, images that are only a decade old. Complicating things is a glacial pacing that left me losing interest in what was going on screen and I found myself wondering what I needed at the grocery store several times while watching. (Also missing besides Trevor's proof that he's Eros? Any of the romantic whimsy of the original series.)

I'm not sure why ABC would seek to redo a series that failed the first time around but, given the series' troubled production, I think ABC realized halfway through shooting the seven episodes that comprise Cupid's season that they too had been under some sort of divine enchantment when they attempted this Grand Experiment. Prognosis: this Cupid's got a troubled ticker.

Cupid premieres tonight at 10 pm ET/PT on ABC.


K said…
I had forgotten about Cupid until you reminded me! Of all the shows from my past, I can't understand why this one is coming back (and yet 90210 and Melrose are back too...). Side note: your encyclopedic TV knowledge is well... encyclopedic. Wow!
Asta said…
I was a fan of the original - I still have a few episodes on tape - and have found the promos for the new incarnation to be uninspiring. That's when I see promos. 'Cupid' seems to have gotten less then half the publicity push 'Castle' has. I was wondering if I should even bother giving it a try tonight and after reading your review, I'll pass.
Anonymous said…
Didn't watch the original and won't be watching this one. Sounds god awful.
Barrett said…
I am a big Rob Thomas fan but this sounds pretty lackluster. I would have much rather had more seasons of the wonderful and witty Veronica Mars than this stupid cupid!!!
TxGowan said…
I loved the original series and that's why I don't think I can watch this newer version. I'm just way too biased to even give it a shot. I echo the sentiment that Cannavale seems woefully miscast.

Oh well. I'm not getting much more than a chuckle from Party Down, either.

Has Thomas stretched himself too thin?

Popular posts from this blog

Katie Lee Packs Her Knives: Breaking News from Bravo's "Top Chef"

The android has left the building. Or the test kitchen, anyway. Top Chef 's robotic host Katie Lee Joel, the veritable "Uptown Girl" herself (pictured at left), will NOT be sticking around for a second course of Bravo's hit culinary competition. According to a well-placed insider, Joel will "not be returning" to the show. No reason for her departure was cited. Unfortunately, the perfect replacement for Joel, Top Chef judge and professional chef Tom Colicchio, will not be taking over as the reality series' host (damn!). Instead, the show's producers are currently scouring to find a replacement for Joel. Top Chef 's second season was announced by Bravo last month, but no return date has been set for the series' ten-episode sophomore season. Stay tuned as this story develops. UPDATE (6/27): Bravo has now confirmed the above story .

BuzzFeed: Meet The TV Successor To "Serial"

HBO's stranger-than-fiction true crime documentary The Jinx   — about real estate heir Robert Durst — brings the chills and thrills missing since Serial   wrapped up its first season. Serial   obsessives: HBO's latest documentary series is exactly what you've been waiting for.   The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst , like Sarah Koenig's beloved podcast, sifts through old documents, finds new leads from fresh interviews, and seeks to determine just what happened on a fateful day in which the most foul murder was committed. And, also like  Serial  before it,  The Jinx may also hold no ultimate answer to innocence or guilt. But that seems almost beside the point; such investigations often remain murky and unclear, and guilt is not so easy a thing to be judged. Instead, this upcoming six-part tantalizing murder mystery, from director Andrew Jarecki ( Capturing the Friedmans ), is a gripping true crime story that unfolds with all of the speed of a page-turner; it

BuzzFeed: "The Good Wife Is The Best Show On Television Right Now"

The CBS legal drama, now in its sixth season, continually shakes up its narrative foundations and proves itself fearless in the process. Spoilers ahead, if you’re not up to date on the show. At BuzzFeed, you can read my latest feature, " The Good Wife Is The Best Show On Television Right Now," in which I praise CBS' The Good Wife and, well, hail it as the best show currently on television. (Yes, you read that right.) There is no need to be delicate here: If you’re not watching The Good Wife, you are missing out on the best show on television. I won’t qualify that statement in the least — I’m not talking about the best show currently airing on broadcast television or outside of cable or on premium or however you want to sandbox this remarkable show. No, the legal drama is the best thing currently airing on any channel on television. That The Good Wife is this perfect in its sixth season is reason to truly celebrate. Few shows embrace complexity and risk-taking in t