'B Positive' earns mildly passing grades as odd-couple sitcoms go
Posted November 5, 2020 2:11 p.m. EST
CNN — The latest series from sitcom maestro Chuck Lorre, "B Positive," owes debts to two of his earlier hits: "Dharma & Greg" and "The Big Bang Theory." Yet this conventional sitcom benefits most from its casting, pairing "Silicon Valley's" Thomas Middleditch and Annaleigh Ashford as the mismatched duo united by the former's need for a kidney.
That predicament was a personal one to series creator Marco Pennette, a transplant recipient, which explains the origins of a concept that's sort of the opposite of "meet-cute." But it's primarily a predictable excuse to throw together an odd couple that wouldn't hang out otherwise -- him a tightly wound, newly divorced therapist, her the boozy, free-spirited "train wreck" he remembers from high school.
The two run into each other at a wedding, not long after Middleditch's Drew has learned that he's going to need a transplant. When he explains his plight to former classmate Gina (Ashford, whose credits include "Masters of Sex"), she impulsively offers to become his donor, after reminding him that he's "the one guy I didn't hook up with in high school."
Lorre has almost single-handedly kept the traditional multi-camera sitcom alive (other current CBS shows including "Mom" and "Bob Hearts Abishola"), and "B Positive" should receive a lift from airing behind the producer's "Big Bang" spinoff "Young Sheldon," which, despite its popularity, qualifies as one of TV's most unsung comedies.
That bodes reasonably well for "B Positive" at least getting sampled, and viewers might be eager for a comedic distraction after days of election drama, which doesn't mean they'll be inclined to stick around.
The leads do provide good company, even though the tension between them feels better suited to a movie rom-com than this sort of open-ended engagement. On the down side, a second episode -- in which Drew goes to dialysis and makes some eccentric new friends -- already starts to feel a tad stale.
Of course, sustaining a premise represents a familiar challenge for new broadcast series, and the question is whether the procedure will take or will be rejected by viewers. Thanks to its stars, "B Positive" earns mildly favorable scores at the outset, even if the title, as sitcom grades go, would be a bit too positive.
"B Positive" premieres November 5 at 8:30 p.m. ET on CBS.