TV Preview: 'Friends With Better Lives' launches with raunchy, funny pilot


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Even by CBS's often low standards for comedies, "Friends With Better Lives" (9 p.m. Monday, KDKA-TV) is pretty raunchy. It's amiably crude and fairly funny, too, but the show will leave some viewers clutching their pearls with jokes tied to masturbation, testicles, defecation, the scent of private parts and oral sex -- all in its first episode. (After this week's premiere "FWBL" moves to 8:30 p.m. Monday on April 7.)

Yes, there's a faint whiff of that other, earlier "Friends" show because "FWBL" is also about six people, although here the conceit is that they're all in different stages of relationships (or lack thereof).

‘Friends with Better Lives’
 
When: 9 p.m. Monday, CBS (moves to 8:30 p.m. April 7).
Starring: James Van Der Beek, Kevin Connolly, Brooklyn Decker, Zoe Lister Jones, Majandra Delfino.

Bobby (Kevin Connolly, "Entourage") and Andi (Majandra Delfino, "Roswell") have been married long enough to forget their anniversary. They have one unseen child and a limited sex life. And they really like to watch "Homeland." (This is one of the pitfalls of holding a pilot for a year: this cultural reference seems dated given the declining quality of "Homeland" in its third season this past fall.)

Will (James Van Der Beek), who works with Bobby in an ob-gyn practice, still pines for the wife who cheated on him. He has been living with Bobby and Andi during his separation.

Jules (Brooklyn Decker) is always finding "the one," although she may actually keep her latest guy, Aussie Lowell (Rick Donald), because he's also a series regular.

And Kate (Zoe Lister Jones) is the requisite singleton who's overly picky about her men. In one montage she complains about all the things she dislikes about assorted men she dates, including one with a single testicle: "It was right in the middle, coming at me like the boulder in 'Raiders of the Lost Ark.' "

Ms. Lister Jones turns out to be the most compelling presence here despite a vocal cadence that brings to mind Lisa Kudrow in "The Comeback." Still, her snappish, tart delivery stands out.

This cast of characters coalesces pretty well in the premiere episode, and that isn't always the case for "Friends" clones. Whether "FWBL" has anything to say beyond the smutty-funny jokes of the pilot remains to be seen: CBS did not make subsequent episodes available for review.

A version of this review first appeared in Tuned In Journal blog at post-gazette.com/tv. TV writer Rob Owen: rowen@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2582. Follow RobOwenTV on Twitter or Facebook.


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