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Commited aired from January until March 2005 on NBC.
Nate and Marni ( Josh Cooke, Jennifer Finnigan) were misfits in love.Two young singles living in Manhattan, they could hardly have been less alike: he was a neurotic , obsessive genious who had " dropped out" by working in a record store; she was a sweet, perky eternally sunny ditz who told odd stories about her weird uncle. To make things even stranger, she lived in a sublet apartment that came complete with a nearly mute " dying clown" ( played by sitcom veteran Tom Poston) who lived in the closet. Bowie ( Darius McCrary) was Nate's best friend , a funny black guy who tried to encourage him, and Tess ( Tammy Lynn Michaels), a sardonic young nanny who lived next door. Todd ( RonReaco Lee) was Marni's ex-boyfriend, who kept trying to break Nate and Marni up.
A Review from The New York Times
TV REVIEW | 'COMMITTED'
The Id Aside, Neurosis Is Really a Lot of Laughs
By ALESSANDRA STANLEY
Published: January 4, 2005
Mental illness is the new sex.
NBC's new sitcom, "Committed," a series centered on the romance between Nate (Josh Cooke), an obsessive-compulsive math genius and his nutty girlfriend, Marni (Jennifer Finnigan), makes it clear: psychological disorders are the next big thing. First there was "Mad About You," then "Friends," "Sex and the City" and "Will & Grace."
Now, its "O.C.D. About You."
It makes sense. Seratonin is like sex: everybody does it. Psychopharmacology has turned from a luxury good to a commonplace service, and nowadays it seems that almost everyone is either a patient or close to someone who is. Children are as medicated as their parents and therapy is in the air, in the culture and in everyone's medicine cabinet. So of course the generation that took sex public would move the other sphere of traditional privacy out of the confessional and into retail space. On prime time mental illness is a topic that is no longer taboo, but it is still just novel enough to incite laughter.
"Committed" is a much more conventional sitcom than "Arrested Development," a farcical Fox comedy that also makes light of the latest trends in neurosis and brain chemistry, but it is amusing, particularly when it pushes the boundaries of black humor and political correctness. (It is an equal opportunity lampoon of disabilities, from a dying clown who lives in a walk-in closet, to Marni's friend Todd (RonReaco Lee), a passive-aggressive black man in a wheelchair who torments Nate behind his back. "Just because I'm in a wheelchair doesn't mean I can't play basketball," he tells Nate. "And just because I'm black doesn't mean I can."
The evolution from Eros to Id has been gradual. Risque jokes about sex were at the center of sitcoms about the urban singles scene like "Seinfeld," "Friends" and "Sex and the City," but the humor eventually wore thin. ("Coupling," an NBC knock-off of a sex-obsessed British sitcom, flopped.) NBC's "Will & Grace" set a milestone by introducing gay leading men to a network sitcom, but the series' funniest riffs revolve around Karen's screwball substance abuse.
"Committed" may be the first network sitcom explicitly to frame psychological disorders as a central comic conceit, but the mental health motif began showing up years ago in books like "Prozac Nation" and "The Corrections," and it is part of the landscape in movies from as "As Good as It Gets" to "Garden State." The theme is not even new to television, though until now it has mostly popped up on cable, from HBO's "Sopranos," which began as the story of a mobster who consults a psychiatrist about his anxiety attacks, to "Monk," the USA series about an obsessive-compulsive detective. (That show is merely a modern revival of a 1970's trend in detective series. Back then, physical disability, not neurotic compulsion, was the fashion: Raymond Burr played a sleuth in a wheelchair on "Ironside," James Franciscus was a blind one on "Longstreet," and on "Cannon," William Conrad played a detective who was dangerously fat.)
Sitcoms have always relied on eccentrics and kooky characters, but "Committed" takes it further, right into the cuckoo's nest. Nate, a math genius whose family makes the Tennenbaums seem like the Partridge family, works in a used-record store and nurses his fixations: he has an obsessive fear of elevators, blocked emergency exits and throwing things out. One episode revolves around Nate's attempts to keep Marni from seeing his apartment, which looks like a cross between the CollyerBrothers' brownstone and the schizophrenic mathematician's garage in "A Beautiful Mind."
Or perhaps worse. Marni's friend and neighbor Tess (Tammy Lynn Michaels), a nanny with her own set of psychological blocks, helps Marni break into Nate's apartment and declares that it looks like the Unabomber's cabin. "We should probably go," she tells Marni. "The police are going to want to talk to you before he kills again."
"Committed" has charm and wit, but its success depends on the writing and the lasting power of the two leads. Mr. Cooke is appealing in the role of Nate, but he seems a little wholesome for someone who makes Venn diagrams to map out a conversational point.
Ms. Finnigan has a lively presence as Marni, though her vivacity at times verges on the shrill. Marni is an occupational therapist who is wacky and almost psychotically cheerful and optimistic. Her diagnosis is left undeclared, but she clearly has some issues of her own. On her first date with Nate, she asks the waiter for sparkling water, then changes her mind.
"I keep forgetting I'm off the medication now," she says gaily. "I'll have a merlot."
A Review from Entertainment Weekly
NBC's Committed couple puts the tics in neurotics.
By Henry Goldblatt
I don't know why I love that boy,'' says Bowie (Darius McCrary) at the start of Committed. ''That boy'' is the sitcom's protagonist, Nate, who holds a physics degree from Yale but works in a used-record store to avoid the fate of the rest of his hyperintelligent family, who went bonkers.
It's not a good omen when a character has to remind himself aloud to find his best friend endearing, but it's a perfect harbinger for Committed, the most unlikable comedy of the season. What makes the series' flaws especially glaring and disheartening is that it's the networks' only new midseason sitcom offering so far, and there's no genre on television that's more starved for a hit.
Early on, Nate (Josh Cooke) meets fresh-off-the-meds Marni Jennifer Finnigan, all Kewpie face and squeaky voice aiming for Dharma but achieving Donald Duck and the two fulfill the title's joke: They are/should be committed. Oddball romance shows work when the leads' adorability compensates for the plots' predictability, but this series' tone is so abrasive (laughs at the expense of the handicapped and a nasty homophobic subplot in the second episode) and the writing so insipid (Her: ''Are you busy?''; Him: ''No, but I'm about to get busy'') that you gotta root for the tawdry reality show that will inevitably chase Committed off the air after a couple of low-rated months.
All that said, the biggest disappointment is the way Committed squanders its talented supporting cast. Tammy Lynn Michaels, so excellent as a witchy cheerleader on The WB's Popular, is reduced to playing a babysitter who has to whip up funny from a nanny cam and a teddy bear. (Get this woman's claws into one of those inevitable Desperate Housewives rip-offs ASAP!) Speaking of reduced: poor Tom Poston. The Newhart alum plods through his role as a clown living in Marni's closet in what has to be the most convoluted plot well, I'd say twist, but that implies some degree of cleverness device since Alf took up residence in the Tanner family kitchen.
Committed doesn't mention 9/11 in its first three episodes, but Poston's closeted clown, a gas-mask joke, and prescription-drug references are surely meant to evoke New Yorkers' post-millennium neuroses. Perhaps there's humor to be mined here Curb Your Enthusiasm did a blistering take on the subject but three and a half years later those jokes still require delicacy. And Committed has all the subtlety of a Xanax overdose.
An Article from US Weekend Magazine
Saturday, 12 February 2005
Jennifer Finnigan - USA Weekend
As one of 425 actresses auditioning for the NBC sitcom "Committed," Jennifer Finnigan, an Emmy winner from daytime's "The Bold and the Beautiful," knew she had to do something daring.
The night before she was to read with the already-cast lead, Finnigan tells us, "I called him to meet for coffee and kind of assumed the character I had worked out. I think that freaked him out, but the next day there was a familiarity."
It didn't hurt that Finnigan, 25, who most recently played Devan Maguire on "Crossing Jordan," knows her sitcoms. "I loved 'Cosby,' 'Golden Girls,' 'Three's Company,' 'I Love Lucy,' 'Bewitched' on Nick at Nite. And then I was obsessed with 'Seinfeld' and 'Friends'."
Comedic women are the ones she admires most, "someone like Lucille Ball or Julia Louis-Dreyfus. They don't necessarily look sexy or feminine, but they're so darn funny."
At home in Montreal, her family is rooting for "Committed's" success. "I don't get home very often," Finnigan says, "so this is their way of keeping up with me."
An Article from The New York Times
COVER STORY; Romantic Comedy With a Twist
By BILL CARTER
Published: February 20, 2005
COMEDY on television, once abundant, has become a precious, almost endangered resource. So when a network gets a sitcom it sort of, kind of, in its wildest dreams, believes might actually become a hit someday, it holds on as long as it can, nurturing it along like a wounded bird.
That is certainly what Fox has done for a season and a half with ''Arrested Development,'' the Emmy Award-winning comedy that has yet to light a significant spark in the ratings. And NBC is taking a similar approach to a new comedy called ''Committed,'' which went on the air in January -- to mostly tepid response from viewers.
''I really think there's something there,'' said Kevin Reilly, the president of NBC Entertainment, who has been a personal cheerleader for the nascent series. He found the show's off-center style exactly what he believed the audience was looking for after becoming exhausted with traditional network situation comedy. ''It's inventive, and a little subversive,'' he said.
But the facts are still a bit harsh. ''Committed,'' a romantic comedy with a twist -- and two twisted main characters -- did not take off like a rocket. It won just middling reaction when it played a couple of times on Thursday nights alongside NBC's only existing strong comedies, ''Joey'' and ''Will & Grace.''
Then NBC moved it to Tuesday, where the network somewhat desperately hopes it can fashion a second mini-refuge for comedy. Paired with the well-regarded but struggling ''Scrubs,'' ''Committed'' managed to hold its own, at first. ''We were pretty encouraged,'' Mr. Reilly said, ''before the Death Star came in there.''
The grim force he was referring to is ''American Idol'' on Fox, which started its new season with a two-hour edition on a Tuesday that swept away all in its path, including that week's episode of ''Committed.''
But Mr. Reilly and NBC are keeping their hopes up, talking about all the usual suspects that started small and ended large, like ''Cheers,'' ''Seinfeld'' and ''Everybody Loves Raymond.''
And that is music to the ears of the show's two creators, Eileen Heisler and DeAnn Heline, a longtime comedy writing team who after years of happy, dependable work on shows like ''Roseanne'' and ''Murphy Brown,'' have seen the genre experience a 1929-like panic sell-off over the last several years.
''Comedy is in a depressed state right now,'' said Ms. Heisler. Indeed, instead of sitcoms, viewers are turning much more to dramas with comic elements, like ''Desperate Housewives,'' which is winning awards in comedy categories already, and reality shows that offer laughs, like ''The Simple Life'' and start-of-season ''Idol'' episodes, with their ''Gong Show''-like audition segments.
Ms. Heline said a kind of cycle had set in: viewers have rejected many of the comedy offerings in recent years, which has created a dearth of good time periods for new comedies, making it harder for new ones to survive.
''There used to be flow from show to show,'' she said. ''Now there isn't.''
So how does a show break through? The ''Committed'' creators repeated the message that many network programmers have been sending out: break the rules.
''We had to say to ourselves: we can't tell the same old stories,'' Ms. Heline said.
And so the two partners, who have been writing together since their days as undergraduate roommates at New York University, found themselves in Ms. Heline's kitchen one day. ''We just said the phrase: neurotics in love,'' Ms. Heisler said. The premise evolved from there: a romantic comedy about two people with some real personality issues, two people who might not be appealing to anyone else because of their bizarre behavioral traits, but who would be made for each other.
That is the basic description of Nate and Marni, the central pair in the series, which started out being called ''Crazy for You.'' Nate is neurotic, all right, also obsessive and compulsive, and endlessly phobic. Marni is bizarrely eccentric, with a perennially chipper view of the world that is utterly disconnected from reality.
To add to the zany stew, Marni has a former flame, Todd, whom Nate hates -- but not because Todd is black and confined to a wheelchair (though Todd likes to use both weapons of guilt against Nate). She has also sublet her New York apartment from a friend who insisted that she allow the previous tenant, a dying clown, to continue to live in the living room closet.
That may be the weirdest stroke of all in the series, but the creators can't claim originality for it. ''It's a true story,'' Ms. Heline said. She swore that she and Ms. Heisler had had a friend at N.Y.U. who sublet a place that really had a dying clown occupying a closet -- really a big walk-in closet with a window that had been turned into a bedroom. ''And you'd be there, and then this clown would come out in his bathrobe and walk around,'' Ms. Heline said.
What surprised the creators was that none of the usual network notes -- about making characters more likable or not pushing the bounds of taste too far (like having a nasty guy in a wheelchair) -- were forthcoming. The off-kilter elements appealed to NBC.
Casting became crucial, because the characters were so weird that the actors had to bring them back to reality. The first casting decision was easy. Tom Poston seemed born to play a dying clown in a closet.
RonReaco Lee had the perfect mix of fake pleasantness and aggrieved victimhood for Todd. Josh Cooke, a newcomer with no television experience at all, blew the creators away in his audition for Nate. But finding Marni proved a challenge.
''We saw over 200 actresses,'' Ms. Heisler said. ''I can't turn on the TV now without seeing somebody who tried out for Marni.''
Only after they were able to talk NBC into allowing them to test Jennifer Finnigan, an actress already under contract to the network and working on the series ''Crossing Jordan,'' did they find someone who had the right chemistry with Mr. Cooke.
NBC passed on the chance to start the series last fall. ''Kevin told us, 'I don't have a time period for you, and I don't want to put you somewhere where you'll fail,''' Ms. Heline said. So the show was put off until midseason, but 13 episodes were ordered. That was both a blessing and a challenge, because the creators had no way of knowing which characters would pop before making more episodes. (Now they know: NBC executives would like to have seen more of Todd, who is only in six of the shows.)
''We're counting on Kevin to hang in there with us,'' Ms. Heisler said.
And Mr. Reilly continues to say positive things. The situation NBC now finds itself in with regard to comedy, he said, almost makes it imperative for the network to stick by a show like ''Committed,'' a show it has faith in, no matter what the early ratings.
''At some point you just have to bet on quality shows,'' Mr. Reilly said. ''You've got to believe that good television will ultimately prevail.''
To watch clips of Committed go to https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=committed+tv+show
For more on Commited go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Committed_(2005_TV_series)
For Tim's TV Showcase go to https://web.archive.org/web/20050214191149/http://www.timstvshowcase.com/committed.html
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Keywords: Committed: Cast Photo