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Coupling aired from September until October 2003 on NBC.
One of the most hyped new shows of the 2003-2004 season, and one of its biggest flops, was this sex-drenched British import. It revolved around 6 young singles who hung out at a trendy Chicago bar and talked about all sex all the time-panties, genital sizes, performance issues and the like. There were Susan ( Rena Sofer), a smart, stylish professional ( it was never clear what most of these people did for a living), who formerly dated Patrick ;Steve ( Jay Harrington), her rather jumpy current boyfriend; Jane ( Lindsay Price), Steve's clingy former girlfriend who wouldn't let go; Patrick ( Colin Ferguson), the pompous " player" of the bunch who considered himself God's gift to women; Sally ( Sonya Walger), Susan's vain best friend , who was terrified of aging; and Jeff ( Christopher Moynihan), Susan's wimpy co-worker and Steve's best friend, who offered awkward sex advice.
Although the British version was highly successful , this one wasn't. It was pulled from the schedule after 4 episodes due to plunging ratings. Perhaps the most interesting thing about the series was the seductive theme song , a bolero called " Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps( Quizas, Quizas, Quizas)" made popular in the 1940's by Bob Eberly, Desi Arnaz and others.
A Review from Variety
(Series -- NBC, Thurs. Sept. 25, 9:15 p.m.)
By PHIL GALLO
Taped in Los Angeles by Reveille and Universal Television in association with NBC Studios. Executive producers, Ben Silverman, Phoef Sutton, Beryl Vertue, Sue Vertue, Steven Moffat; co-executive producers, Andrew D. Weyman, co-executive producer; Danny Zuker; producers, Michael Stokes, Liz Astrof, Brad Walsh, Paul Corrigan; co-producer, Robert Peacock; director, Weyman; writer, Steven Moffat.
Susan - Rena Sofer
Steve - Jay Harrington
Jane - Lindsay Price
Patrick - Colin Ferguson
Sally - Sonya Walger
Jeff - Christopher Moynihan
Mercifully re-edited since it was premiered for TV critics in the summer, "Coupling" has reduced the crassness and now has a fighting chance to become a successful British import. It won't come easy, though, as the cast has no likable characters, motivations for every act are sexual, and the moronic men vs. wily women theme has been played out.
While it sounds like it's in need of a complete revamp, "Coupling" does fits into the small window that celebrates titillation over character development, but does so with a smart blend of brash and innuendo. What made it startling to Brit auds is certainly not discernable in the domestic version -- there's nothing here that hasn't been seen or heard on "Friends." In fact, a quick glance at "Friends" shows how this formula is worked successfully; a look at any highly sexual episode of "Seinfeld" -- the one that explored "moves" for example -- shows how far down the creative pole sexual humor has slid.
"Coupling" is led by three men and three women who, halfway through the pilot, should be going their separate ways. But in a convoluted world that finds a big-city dating pool limited to one bar and one restaurant, no matter who may be broken up with whom is bound to run into each other. As one says at the end of the pilot: we all have baggage -- let's take it to dinner.
The goal of "Coupling" appears to be getting Steve (Jay Harrington) and Susan (Rena Sofer) to hook up, the first obstacle being Jane (Lindsay Price), who refuses to accept Steve's attempts to break up with her. She lures him back by mentioning her interest in bisexual experiences and threesomes. Steve, in turn, has no will power to stick with his plan.
Susan's ex is Patrick (Colin Ferguson), who's confident he can get any woman he wants, including Susan's best friend, Sally (Sonya Walger), whose greatest care, and fear, is aging. Jeff (Christopher Moynihan) provides the thread -- he works with Susan and is best friends with Steve. He's also so unlucky in love, the bulk of the jokes are at his expense.
In the time span and circumstances that only a sitcom can provide, everyone plays nice and the sextet winds up in the most unlikely of places, a funeral. Proof that the writers have begun to add a little depth to the series, a routine based on the suppression of laughter plays out decently in front of the casket.
By the end of the second episode, too, the women are full of good intentions, the men are strictly lustful. It limits the males to shtick, making it difficult to decide if Harrington, Ferguson or Moynihan are bringing anything distinct to their roles. They're all numbskulls when it comes to romance, and this show has little use for any locale beyond the bedroom. Oh, and that corner bar, which is far more believable in London.
The women fare a bit better, even if Price's Jane is strictly flighty. She's got a malicious side to her that could be wonderful to watch if something substantial is made of it. Credit Sofer for, if nothing else, creating a real, believable character. Walger was the one good thing about HBO's "Mind of the Married Man," which makes it troubling that her character is "Coupling's" most one dimensional. Fretting over the effects of age has a limited shelf life.
Andrew D. Weyman's direction involves the shuffling of a large number of characters and getting points of view from a range of views. "Coupling," oddly enough, is funniest when the characters are standing still.
A Review from The New York Times
TELEVISION REVIEW; Two Nations Split by a Sense of Humor
By ALESSANDRA STANLEY
Published: September 25, 2003
NBC's racy new comedy, ''Coupling,'' about the tangled sex lives of six single men and women is shameful, but not because it is so singlemindedly focused on sex.
''Coupling'' is the Milli Vanilli of network television: the sitcom equivalent of lip-synching someone else's song.
The series was cloned from a popular British sitcom that is also shown on BBC America and is also called ''Coupling.'' NBC bought the rights to the British series and transported it, script by script, to Hollywood, a little like Robert P. McCulloch, the chain-saw magnate who bought London Bridge and rebuilt it in Arizona in 1971.
NBC's folly is not nearly as innocent as McCulloch's. There was something bold and bizarrely American about the reassembly of a condemned bit of European history -- London Bridge was about to fall -- in the open desert of the New World. What NBC did, with the help of Ben Silverman, an agent turned producer who helped import European reality shows like ''Big Brother'' and ''The Weakest Link,'' is less inspired. ''Coupling'' is a spasm of insecurity by a network desperate to find a potent successor to ''Friends,'' which tonight, at long last, begins its final season.
America invented the sitcom; it is as indigenous as jazz. ''Coupling'' in fact was a more ribald British riff on ''Friends.'' The American ''Coupling'' is just a pale imitation. American actors were cast, some jokes were rewritten, and the laugh track is far more manic, but there is little evidence of homemade wit, even the jaunty title music is the same.
At a time when some of the brightest Harvard and Yale graduates are choosing to intern on ''Saturday Night Live'' rather than to clerk for the Supreme Court, there must be some domestic talent for NBC to exploit. ''Coupling'' suggests that the network of ''Cheers,'' ''Frasier,'' ''Friends'' and ''Will & Grace'' has lost its nerve.
None of that would matter of course if ''Coupling'' were truly funny. It is instead sort of funny. It is not as winsome as ''Friends,'' and it does not come close to the madcap originality of ''Will & Grace,'' the hit that ''Coupling'' has the good fortune to follow. But the new series's sheer tenacity -- its creator, Steven Moffat, once said he wanted to pull off a series in which the only topic of conversation was sex -- is amusing. Not all the jokes made the trip across the Atlantic, and the American version omits words like ''daft'' and ''knickers.'' There is plenty of likably loopy material and old-fashioned farce, though less in tonight's episode than in others down the line.
The real problem with the Americanized ''Coupling'' is that the best jokes wilt in translation, particularly when viewers can so easily compare the NBC version with the original. British wit is not always dry or inventively droll. (For every ''Monty Python'' there are several ''Benny Hills.'') But British humor about sex is highly idiosyncratic. Like bathroom humor, it works by playing havoc with the English cult of good manners and reticence.
Some British pundits have said that Americans are too puritanical to accept so risque a show. The real problem is that Americans are too nice. Rudeness, the ultimate British taboo, is at the root of ''Coupling,'' set loose in the characters' cavalier, even callous, attitude toward sex.
The catharsis of discourtesy is not as vital to the American psyche.
And NBC did not help matters by casting generic, bland actors in the six roles. The story, based on the lives of Mr. Moffat and his wife, Sue Vertue, a writer and producer of the show, revolves around a couple, Steven (Jay Harrington) and Susan (Rena Sofer), who are also part of a sextet: each comes to the romance with a best friend and an ex-lover attached. Steven's best friend is his porn buddy, Jeff. (They have pledged that should one die suddenly, the other would go straight to his apartment and remove all pornographic videos before any parents arrive.) Jane, a vapid seductress who won't accept their breakup as final, is Steve's ex. Susan used to sleep with Patrick, a vain, handsome Don Juan who is now dating her best friend, an age-obsessed beauty expert. (''A woman's breasts are on a journey, and her feet are the destination,'' she warns in tonight's pilot.)
The American version is set in Chicago instead of London, but for no apparent reason. None of the characters have Chicago accents or Midwestern quirks; they are all homogenized Hollywood actors with plastic good looks. On the British ''Coupling,'' Jeff is a sex-addled, doltish Welshman, a little like Hugh Grant's roommate, Spike (Rhys Ifans), in the 1999 movie ''Notting Hill.'' The American Jeff has no regional accent or eccentric flair. He just has messier hair.
NBC hoped it could minimize risk by duplicating the reality show situation: recreating at home a show that is already a proven hit abroad. But ''Coupling'' is not a perfect clone. It is a weaker twin.
To watch clips of Coupling go to https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=coupling+us+version+
For a webpage dedicated to Rena Sofer go to http://www.rena-sofer.com/
For a Review of Coupling go to http://www.entertainyourbrain.com/couplingrev.htm
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Keywords: The Cast of Coupling