Review: Big Day

Big Day

In the US: Tuesdays, 9/8c, ABC

In the UK: ITV2 at some point

Weddings can be tricky things, can’t they? I don’t know how yours went – or if yours went at all – but mine had a few not-so-smooth moments, even though we chose to outsource the entire process to Las Vegas to make things easier.

Now some bright spark has come up with the idea of 24 meets a comedy wedding. Yes, an entire season of shows that follow a wedding day in real-time. Feel the tension, the adrenaline, the nerves, all without having to go through the process yourself.

Wouldn’t it be good if it was funny as well?

Plot (and this is supposed to make you want to watch the show?)

Each season, the show 24 tackles one very, very bad day in the life of a special agent in charge of national security. This fall ABC will also present one very, very bad day in someone’s life… a young couple’s wedding day in the beautiful backyard of a family home. And while no one is defusing a nuclear bomb – they’re arguing about when the salad is going to be served – the stakes (as anyone who has been through a wedding knows) are just as high.

Big Day tells the stories you don’t see on the wedding video — the father who sits his daughter down on the morning of her big day and tells her he really doesn’t think she should marry this guy; the bitter bridesmaid older sister who sleeps with the best man and accidentally drinks his contact lenses, which he left in a glass of water on the nightstand, blinding him for the rest of the proceedings; the groomsman who’s secretly in love with the groom; the tightly wound mother of the bride who intimidates the nervous wedding planner into changing the salad (the bride’s choice, Caesar, is just so tacky!).

Big Day stars Marla Sokoloff (ABC’s The Practice) as Alice and Josh Cooke as Danny – the blushing bride and groom — Wendie Malick (Just Shoot Me) as Jane, Kurt Fuller (Anger Management) as Steve, Miriam Shor as Becca, Stephen Rannazzisi as Skobo and the hilariously nervous Stephnie Weir (FOX’s Mad TV) as Lorna.

The writers of What Women Want and 13 Going on 30 take a full season to dissect the biggest day in any family’s life (from waking up in the AM to the honeymoon suite). Tapping into the charm of such romantic comedies as Wedding Crashers and the real horror of Bridezillas, they bring us the crazy chaos and the love that ultimately marks everyone’s Big Day. The series is executive-produced by Josh Goldsmith, Cathy Yuspa and Matthew Carlson.



Is it any good?

As you can probably tell from the plot summary, it’s not as good as might have been hoped. The real-time gimmick is a nice idea but in the first episode, you can’t actually tell it’s all real-time; you just have to take their word for it. So no adrenaline yet.

Then we have the characters. Again, we’re in some parallel comedy universe where people act and behave in ways only seen in tele. Sure, you need to take the dull bits out of reality to make TV, but you still need a certain amount of reality. A groom who wants the theme to his favourite childhood TV show played during the ceremony? Really? That’s the best you’ve got guys?

Rather than subtle, clever or original humour, Big Day wants to get its yucks from slapstick, exaggerated characters and clichés. Wedding tents collapse when a single tent peg is removed, the mother of the bride is always interfering and over-ruling her daughter, the father disapproves of the groom: been here, seen that, got bored by it the first time.

There are plenty of wedding disaster stories to be found on the Internet (and in most people’s personal lives. I know I’ve been to some interesting weddings in my time…), without having to constantly return to other TV programmes and movies for inspiration. Write from what you know, guys, not from what you’ve watched on the small screen, because you can bet we’ve watched it, too.

So a bad start for this one. I might watch the next episode, but I can’t guarantee it. I’m only hoping this doesn’t steal the thunder of the far-superior The Singles Table and prejudice the audience against weddings-based comedy.

Here’s a YouTube clip for you. I must have blinked or it must be from a later episode since this one’s funnier than I remember the show being.

Cast

Marla Sokoloff (Alice)

Josh Cooke (Danny)

Wendie Malick (Jane)

Kurt Fuller (Steve)

Miriam Shor (Becca)

Stephen Rannazzisi (Skobo)

Stephnie Weir (Lorna)

UPDATE: Did you know that a rom-com, real-time wedding was one of the original ideas for 24? That could have been a very different Jack Bauer we’d have come to have known…