I had decidedly low expectations for Wedding Band, TBS’ latest attempt at original comedy. The network’s previous efforts have been pretty tepid. In fact, there have been more laughs in some of the dramas on its sister network, TNT.
But Wedding Band, which premieres at 10 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 10, proved much funnier than expected, a demented and adult show reminscent of ABC’s Happy Endings. And there are some insane musical turns, such as the glockenspiel-and-cello duet on West End Girls.
The series focuses on the four guys in a Seattle wedding band called Mother of the Bride. Tommy (Brian Austin Green) is the group’s Peter Pan, single and showing no interest in growing up even if he’s looking older. The clearest contrast to Tommy is his friend and bandmate Eddie (Peter Cambor), who is married — with children — to a police detective who keeps wondering when Eddie is going to give up playing in the band in order to focus on parenting and his day job. Eddie’s brother Barry (Derek Miller) is at once the group’s goofball and its visual visionary — the sort who figures out how to make an arena-style light show work in a party center. Then there’s Stevie (Harold Perrineau), by far the most experienced and accomplished musician in the group, but also its newest member.
Along with the band, there are the people around them, such as Tommy’s wife Ingrid (Kathryn Fiore); events planner Rutherford (Melora Hardin), whose patronage would give Mother of the Bride more and better work, and Rachel (Jenny Wade), an associate of Rutherford’s, and someone who has history with Tommy. Outside that circle are still more friends, clients, rival musicians and others to fill out the crowded and sometimes complicated storylines the show uses to fill each hour.
Yes, it’s an hourlong comedy. TBS says Wedding Band is “equal parts comedy and heart,” although it’s much more comedy — and wedding-friendly music including covers (either in brief bits or full songs) of the likes of Hot in Herre, Don’t You Forget About Me, YMCA and — a noticeable mistake — Lust for Life.
I did like the way the show keeps its characters from veering into caricature, a credit both to the writing and the acting. I was especially surprised, and pleased, by the presence of Perrineau, well known for Lost and being a very scary criminal in the current season of Sons of Anarchy; he is going to find the truth in any character he plays. Hardin, who was so vividly funny on The Office, has another fun character to work with. There also seems to be some significant dipping into the old Veronica Mars stock company, with players popping up as guest stars in the two Wedding Band episodes I have seen.
Wedding Band ends up feeling like Mother of the Bride itself; it may not be great, but it’s good at times — and deserves an encore or two.
Rich Heldenfels writes about popular culture for the Beacon Journal and Ohio.com, including the HeldenFiles Online blog, www.ohio.com/blogs/heldenfiles. He is also on Facebook and Twitter. You can contact him at 330-996-3582 or firstname.lastname@example.org.