Cupid [ABC, Tuesdays, 10/9C] has an odd history. Rob Thomas [Veronica Mars] had this prematurely cancelled series in 1998 about an exiled God of Love who was exiled to Earth until he could match one hundred couples – true love, mind you. Then, and only then, would he be allowed to return to Mount Olympus. The series was smart, witty, funny, and almost desperately romantic and quite possibly the best show of the year in the minds of many critics. It also put Jeremy Piven on the road to something akin to stardom. It lasted fifteen episodes. Ever since, Cupid fans have been clamouring for it’s release on DVD. Now, ABC and Mr. Thomas have resurrected the series and the good news is that it’s very good.
The set up is virtually identical: Cupid [Bobby Cannavale]is the love god who is exiled to Earth for his arrogance, and charged with matching one hundred couples – without the aid of magic – before he will be allowed to return home. As in the original, he is thought to be crazy [though there are brief moments that give the audience clues that he isn’t] and only released into the world under the supervision of psychologist Dr. Claire Allen [Sarah Paulson].
Dr. Allen specializes in love, too, but love built on a foundation of sensible and logical steps. She and Cupid – now going by Trevor Pierce – are at extreme ends of the spectrum in their beliefs and approaches to the subject. His first attempt is to help an Irish troubadour find the woman with whom he had a “transcendent moment” on her last day in Ireland. In the process of helping Dave [Sean McGuire], Trevor enlists the aid of a reporter named Madeline [Marguerite Moreau] – who falls in love with Dave!
The premiere episode of Cupid is almost as smart, witty, funny and romantic as the original, if a little less brash and little more dramatic. The interplay between Trevor and Claire is saucy and clever; the two are very much a match for each other in intelligence and wit. The supporting characters – Felix [Rick Gomez] and Lita [Camille Guaty] – are an improvement over their original series counterparts. Felix is the guy who takes in strays – which means he hires Trevor to work at his bar and gives him a place to live. Lita thinks Felix is crazy [there’s that word, again] for doing so.
The direction is precisely what the show needs – the pacing is up-tempo, but not too much to make it jarring when a shot requires a bit of lingering, but never holding onto a shot for too many beats. The entire production is good enough that I will be very disappointed if Cupid is, once again, too hip for the room. Really, the original show was ten years ahead of its time, stylistically and content-wise – which means we should be ready for it, now. And maybe, just maybe, we can get that DVD set of the original series.
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