Network: CBS; Genre: Drama, Comedy; Content Rating: TV-PG (some adult and sexual content, language); Perspective: Contemporary (star range: 1 - 4);
Seasons Reviewed: 1 season (3 episodes)
The real television fan is an embattled creature. Years of TV watching leaves you with one lesson: the excitement of discovering a great new show is always coupled with a growing sense of dread over the near certainty of its prompt cancellation.
"Love Monkey" ranks with the shortest of them at 3 whole episodes. In the future, real-time ratings will allow promising shows to be ripped off the air and replaced with a "CSI" rerun mid-way through their first airing. At 3 episodes we have little arc and stunted development, so we can only really determine it's potential. I'm put in the position of real television reviewers who watch the 3 episode tape they get and throw out a review that prematurely seals a show's fate.
Fortunately, "Love Monkey" is unusually well developed from the get-go. What it lacks in originality it makes up for with a strong, large, cast of characters and a nearly flawless execution. The series follows Tom Farrell (Tom Cavanaugh, "Ed"), a music snob with a pension for Top 40 and earphones embedded permanently in his ears, who vocalizes his anti-corporate, pro-artist view of music and is summarily fired by a big-time record label after an unfortunate slip-of-the-tongue about Hanson (the show is a little dated). He quickly lands at struggling independent label True Vinyl Records and with only one shot left to prove his golden ear-for-talent reputation he bets it all on a crooning John Mayer-type artist called Wayne (Teddy Geiger, singing his own real songs). Doubling as our narrator, Tom monologues about the music industry and relationships, but appears to know only about the former.
If you are now filling in your own "High Fidelity" and "Jerry Maguire" comparisons, you wouldn't be wrong. But outside of that inevitable familiarity, "Monkey" works first because Cavanaugh has enough charm and gosh-darn likability to fuel several shows and, secondly, because the entire rest of the cast is so colorful and well developed. Tom's basket-ball playing, sports-metaphor talking friends include Larenze Tate, Jason Priestly (post-"Tru Calling"), Christopher Weil ("Playmakers") and guy's-girl Judy Greer. At work, he crushes and feuds with striking Ivana Milicevic. The witty banter between the guys and a relationship story, that doesn't take the usual relationship-series, path all work to create a multi-layered and completely entertaining character dramedy.
In episode 2, Tom tries to steal a pop princess (thinly veiled for her real-world counterparts) from the corporate label that won't let her write her own music. In the 3rd episode, where we see how really great this show could have been, Nicky Katt ("Boston Public") guest stars as a pretentious independent film director who hijacks the reins of Wayne's music video.
Music snobs have already pegged "Love Monkey" for committing the ultimate sin of being un-cool. "Monkey" does have a whiff of mainstream pandering. It should be making exclusive music references for the 1% crowd, not trying to relate to Top 40 teenyboppers. "Monkey" should be too cool for the room, instead it seems to only be pretending to know about the music industry and its attempts to parallel real musicians are too transparent to be as clever. A poser.
But if you can make the leap that the musical bits are just a mechanism to explore the human relationships on the show, then it feels a little more organic. There is too much else going on here to just write this show off like the network did. Even though I largely find the network a total bore, unlike the other networks CBS has had a good reputation for supporting their shows. Now, they're on my radar. Since "Love Monkey" barely got off the runway, all we can do is judging its potential and, honestly, this show had the potential to be the best CBS series since "Everybody Loves Raymond".
Hopefully, the show will get a DVD release so I can see the remaining episodes.
* * * ½ / 4
8 out of 10 found this helpful.
Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote!