Fall 2012: Ben and Kate (FOX) Pilot Advance Review

Ben and Kate (FOX)

FOX premieres its new comedy, BEN AND KATE, on Tuesday, September 25, 2012 at 8:30 pm ET. Ben and Kate is about a brother and sister who were close growing up due to necessity, but worlds apart in responsibility, life planning and general outlook. Kate is a young, single mother trying to raise her daughter, Maddie, and get ahead in life. On the opposite side of the spectrum is Ben, a free spirit that blows through town on a whim, with no steady job and an even less steady love life. Ben decides to move back to help Kate with Maddie and the show is born.

Ben and Kate stars Dakota Johnson as Kate. Dakota is the daughter of Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson so it is no wonder that it seems like she is an old hand at acting. I was actually quite surprised to find out in the behind-the-scenes that came with my preview episode that Dakota is only 22. Although I did not expect her to be too much older, I think her acting ability, and especially her comedic timing, is beyond her years. Ben is played by Nat Faxon. I could not recall seeing Nat before. Turns out he co-wrote The Descendants starring George Clooney and has been in various comedies and even TV ads over the years. Nat Faxon is entirely believable as the over-the-top, happy go lucky, stuck in awkward moments, but ready to come to your aid, big brother. The combination of the two seemed natural and almost like they actually were brother and sister. Even the sideline characters including BJ (the inexplicably British bartender), Maddie and Tommy (one of my favorites) all brought the laughs.

I expected Ben and Kate to be funny from what I had read when it was first announced. Pleasantly surprising was the heart that also comes through on the show. It feels as if Ben genuinely cares about Kate and that he is not entirely the self-serving jerk that he sounds like from a cursory plot synopsis. That makes the viewer actually care about the pair. The show constantly reminded us of the pair’s bond through flashbacks as well as through current inside jokes or moments. I found it effective in making me want to return to see how the pair do living together, something a laugh-a-minute show would not necessarily make me do.

You should definitely tune in to Ben and Kate. I think you will find it deliciously funny, but not entirely superficial. What else can I say to interest you? There are a lot of masks and a fake cookie jar. So watch Ben and Kate tonight at 8:30 pm ET on FOX and then come back here and tell me what you thought.