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Saturday, June 4, 2011

Loves Bites begins with "Firsts"

     NBC has a little show called Love Bites that was originally slated to premiere last fall, got pushed to mid-season, and ultimately has to wait until summer to see the light of day. That, combined with terrible first night ratings, does not bode well. And yet, it is an original, compelling, tasty treat of a series. The first episode, appropriately titled "Firsts," aired this past Thursday, and if it is representative of the series as a whole, Love Bites is going to be pretty good. Assuming NBC allows it to continue airing, which is far from certain because of the aforementioned ratings.

     The hook for Love Bites is that it is a series of vignettes, with their own subtitles, having some threads that twist through all three stand alone stories. The theme song boasts only two stars: Becki Newton (Ugly Betty) and Greg Grunberg (Alias, Heroes). Yet, in the first episode, so many wonderful actors play their friends, including Craig Robinson (The Office), Kyle Howard (My Boys), Lindsay Price (Lipstick Jungle), Krysten Ritter (Breaking Bad), and Guillermo Diaz (Weeds), that this could easily become an ensemble piece. Also in the pilot, is Grunberg's character's wife, who is Pamela Adlon (Californication) in the first episode, but was recast as Constance Zimmer (Entourage) in further installments.

     The first bit, "First Time," finds Annie (Newton) trying to help her friend Cassie (Ritter) pick up a man. Unfortunately, Annie's large belly and story of being a surrogate for her sister distracts the guys in the bars. Cassie comes up with her own, albiet made up, story to get attention, telling a guy she's a virgin. He falls for her, but becomes hesitant to engage in sexual relations, knowing he will be the one she remembers. She eventually comes clean, as does he, but instead of splitting up, as would happen when the scenario arises in sitcoms, they stay together. It's a sweet nugget, and a good way to begin a series about love. Attraction is about more than just the pick up lines people use, and everyone wants attention.

     In the second segment, "First To Go," Carter (Howard) loses his job. When he gets home to tell his fiance (Price), he finds her using a vibrator. It's too much humilaition for his manhood to take in one day, so he puts off telling her the bad news, and instead devotes himself to being better in bed than the sex toy. Of course, the truth eventually comes out, and she is supportive. It may sound similar to the first story, but it doesn't feel that way, because a committed couple who have been together for a long time have totally different reasons to lie, and find it much easier to forgive. Clearly, these two belong together.

     Finally, the third and longest section is called "First On the List." Judd (Grunberg) gets the chance to live out the fantasy of many a married man. On an airplane, he runs into Jennifer Love Hewitt (herself), the one and only girl on his "exemption" list, who if he sleeps with, his wife is not allowed to get mad. His wife tells him to go for it, and his buddy (Robinson) is very encouraging. Stranger still, Hewitt is agreeable, having just gotten out of a relationship, finding Judd nice, and wanting to try her fantasy of joining the mile high club. In the end, they get to the bathroom, but Judd is too loyal to his wife to seal the deal, earning even more respect from Hewitt. This is certainly the least realistic situation, meeting an attractive celebrity is only too willing to have sex with you, but again, the heartfelt ending demonstrating true love saves it from being an utter waste.

     Doesn't that sound like a good show worth watching? Here's hoping the series gets signficantly more viewers so it can at least play out the short first season it filmed. Love Bites airs Thursday nights at 10 p.m. ET on NBC.

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     Click here to watch the first episode of Love Bites streaming for free!

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