Ben Queen's "A to Z" is the most promising comedy premiering on broadcast networks this fall. That's not saying much — this is not a particularly good year for new comedies — but it's saying something.
Something like, "If you're longing for a heart-on-its-sleeve show that focuses exclusively on romance, and you feel, as many of us did, that
As my colleague Robert Lloyd recently noted, the comedie du saison is the rom-com, straight up and sincere, as opposed to sweetly satiric (
This is Andrew (
If this setup reminds you of the lovely and lyrical relationship-forensics film
The characters are, unsurprisingly, divided by more than 26 letters. Andrew works for an online dating service and has managed to hang on to a lover's idealism, despite the company's business plan of keeping as many people single and desperately seeking as possible.
Zelda, on the other hand, is a high-performance lawyer focused on her career and wary of words such as "destiny" and "meant to be." Which Andrew, of course, quickly throws at her, convinced, after their first meeting, that she is, in fact, the woman he fell in love with across a crowded room two years previous.
Indeed, the only thing the lead characters initially share is their penchant for wacky best friends. Andrew has Stu (Henry Zebrowski), and Zelda has Stephie (Lenora Crichlow of the original "Being Human," who deserves a non-bestie role in an American show very soon).
Fortunately, the lead actors share many other and much more important traits. Equally saucer-eyed and engaging, Feldman and Milioti possess an attractive but still admirably expressive miens and the comedic timing required for Queens' nicely wrought depiction of early courtship's nervous hope.
Together, Andrew and Zelda fizz more than sizzle, but then this show is all about Big Romance — something television still tends to keep in a separate comedic box from Hot Sex. And though sex of some temperature will no doubt occur (probably with adorable anxiety and possibly between episodes called "Repression" and "Therapy"), "A to Z" is much more concerned with the magic, mystery and mishaps of falling in love.
Which may start off as simple as ABC but then gets way more complicated. With any luck, this show will follow suit.
'A to Z'
When: 9:30 p.m. Thursday