By Nicole Starker Campbell

All images courtesy of NBC

All images courtesy of NBC

For the past decade, the number of network television shows I have enjoyed watching has been in steady decline. I can count on one hand the number of network shows regularly recording on my PVR like SNL, Parenthood and Grey’s. But I keep holding out for a hidden gem and last season, I got into Brooklyn Nine-Nine, because I can’t get enough of Andy Samberg. And so this season, I decided to give Marry Me a try.

The show opens strong with a marriage proposal from Jake that is botched by potential fiancé Annie… while family and friends waiting to surprise Annie after the proposal listen from the other room.

Casey Wilson, previously with the cast of Happy Endings, plays Annie. The show was about a group of six friends living in Chicago. Happy Endings aired for three years and was cancelled after last season.

Ken Marino plays Jake. Marino has had roles in films like Bad Teacher and Wanderlust and television roles in Eastbound and Down.

While Marry Me contains rom-com moments, it is not maple-syrupy sweet, which I appreciate. The banter between Jake and Annie has the same comedic edge as the main couple in Rules of Engagement. Wilson and Marino have chemistry and are believable as a couple on Marry Me.

Among the supporting cast is Jake’s divorced friend Gil, played by John Gemberling. Gil could be Zach Galifianakis’ younger, and only slightly less quirky, brother. Sarah Wright Olsen is excellent as Annie’s cute, blond, and single BFF Dennah. SNL alum Tim Meadows plays one of Annie’s two gay dads, both named Kevin.

Photo by: Greg Gaynes/NBC

Photo by: Greg Gaynes/NBC

In addition to the opening sequence featuring Annie doing shots, ranting about the fact that her beau has not proposed after six years of dating, and running down the friends she doesn’t know are listening, Jake and Annie’s first meeting was a fun scene.

After Jake approaches Annie at a Mexican restaurant, she tells him, “You know you really shouldn’t eat at that place because the owners give tons of money to oppose gay marriage, and my dads are gay. So enjoy your hate nachos.” At this, Jake tosses his nachos, and the next second, a server hands Annie her take-out order and frequent customer punch card.

There is nothing I appreciate more in a comedy than good writing, and though Marry Me is certainly no VEEP, the script is sprinkled with some sparkling lines. Here are a few of my faves:

“I didn’t even freak out when I caught you masturbating to an US Weekly of that surfer girl who got her arm bitten off by a shark.”—Annie

“We literally cannot get away from each other! We’re like Paula Deen and the N-word.” —Jake

“I need your explosions, you challenge me. You’re like my little exploding Challenger,” Jake says. “R.I.P. to the whole crew up there.”

These little comedic gems are best delivered in tiny bursts, but in the pilot, these moments are sometimes overworked and drawn out. Wilson, especially, is just too over the top at times.

A karaoke scene early in the couple’s relationship where Annie announces that she will sing Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You”, realizes she may have just told Jake she loves him, and launches into a verbal backpedal is the type of cringing funny that The Office did so well. But the scene goes on far too long and quickly turns to annoying rather than hilarious.

Photo by: Jordin Althaus/NBC

Photo by: Jordin Althaus/NBC

Speaking of The Office, one of the highlights of the pilot was an appearance by Leslie David Baker. Baker channeled his former role as deadpan, crusty Stanley, to play Jake’s boss. Unfortunately, we may not see Baker again as Annie’s proposal to Jake at work results in Jake getting fired. In the end, after two imperfect proposals, Jake and Annie finally end up engaged.

NBC ordered up six episodes of Marry Me, which suggests a moderate amount of confidence in the show. The network did give this new rom-com a decent time slot as the lead-in to About a Boy, starring Minnie Driver.

Marry Me wasn’t love at first watch, but I’ll give it another chance; I could grow to love it.

The show airs Tuesday nights on NBC and Friday nights on Global.

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