Review: Love Bites 1×1

And so does the show

Love Bites on NBC

In the US: Thursdays, 10/9c, NBC

To cut a long story short, “…and so does this show,” an anthology of love stories in the same vein as Valentine’s Day, Love Actually and He’s Just Not That Into You.

My God it’s awful. Painful to watch. Clichéd, badly written. Ugh. But then given it was NBC’s back-up for its back-up for its back-up in case some of its Fall shows were bad, what were we all expecting?

Here’s a clip followed by – just for laughs – the trailer for the pilot episode, which had virtually an entirely different cast and a completely different set of storylines.

“Love Bites” is an hour-long romantic comedy anthology series featuring three loosely connected modern stories of love, sex, marriage and dating. Each of the multiple vignettes will involve an array of talented guest stars every week, and will illuminate the theme of love with a fresh, irreverent spin.

Anchoring the series and appearing in each episode are stars Becki Newton (“Ugly Betty”) as Annie Matopoulos, a single New York City girl looking for “Mr. Right Now”; and Constance Zimmer (“Entourage”) and Greg Grunberg (“Heroes”) as Colleen and Judd Rouscher, a happily married Venice Beach couple.

Guest cast for the pilot episode includes Jennifer Love Hewitt (“Ghost Whisperer”), Craig Robinson (NBC’s “The Office”), Kyle Howard (“My Boys”), Steve Howey (“Bride Wars”), Lindsay Price (“Eastwick”), Larry Wilmore (“The Daily Show”), Guillermo Diaz (“Mercy”), Krysten Ritter (“Breaking Bad”), David Giuntoli (“Privileged”), and Charlyne Yi (“Knocked Up”).

Emmy Award-winning producer/director Marc Buckland (“My Name Is Earl”) directed the pilot, and will serve as an executive producer. He’s joined by executive producers Tracy Poust and Jon Kinnally (“Will & Grace,” “Ugly Betty”), and Eric Fellner, Tim Bevan, and Shelley McCrory of Working Title Television. Emmy Award-winning writer/producer Cindy Chupack (“Sex And The City”) is the creator, and will be a consulting producer on the series.

“Love Bites” is from Universal Media Studios and Working Title Television, which is a new division of Working Title Films (the UK production company behind such box office hits as “Love Actually,” “Bridget Jones’s Diary,” and “Four Weddings and a Funeral”).

Is it any good?
On the one hand, I admire the bravery of a network anthology show that’s happy to bring guest stars in for one-off stories that have nothing to do with the rest of the show, beyond a phone call or being observed in the background of another story. That’s kind of cool.

But it would help if the stories were going to be something, anything: you know, funny, romantic, interesting, clever, original. You know, just exhibited some qualities that distinguished them from the test card.

The first episode – we must be careful about terminology, since the pilot episode was completely different and featured Jordana Spiro among others – gave us three stories. The first had Krysten Ritter of Gravity lying about being a virgin to get into bed with a Battlestar Galactica fan since she doesn’t have a story to compete with best friend Becki Newton’s “I’m pregnant with my sister’s baby” story. The second has Lindsay Price’s husband getting made redundant at work and then getting made redundant at home when she gets a vibrator. And the third sees Heroes‘s Greg Grunberg discovering that having a celebrity on your ‘list‘ – in this case, Jennifer Lover Hewitt – really doesn’t allow you to have sex with them without repercussions from your wife.

Now, with the exception of the first story, which is almost sweet and is oddly very, very accurate about Battlestar Galactica, these are all dreadful. I mean just awful. There is virtually nothing you won’t have seen before, that’s funny, that’s like actual real life as you know it or that in any way won’t make you reach for the remote control just as soon as you possibly can. Every stereotype about male and female behaviour is strip-mined for whatever micrograms of interest that it might possibly have, then put through an industrial process that uses acid to remove even those small trace elements, before it’s handed to you like a lump of perfectly white chalk with no single distinguishing mark on it whatsoever.

Strangely, of all the characters, Becki Newton and Greg Grunberg (and wife)’s are the only recurring ones – particularly strangely in Grunberg’s case since he was originally only intended to be a guest character and in Newton’s case because she has virtually nothing to do in this episode. Ritter is the only one with even a hint of interest in the whole show and she’s only a guest star.

It’s a baffling show – baffling in the sense that I have no idea why NBC greenlit it except as a Plan D in case of ratings disaster – and I really can’t imagine it even getting to the end of the season, let alone getting renewed or picked up by any other networks.

Do not watch.


  • Rob Buckley

    I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.

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