Ben and Kate

Ben and Kate
Tuesday | 8:30 pm | FOX

Ben and Kate are brother and sister, who raised each other and now are raising Kate’s daughter. Ben (Nat Faxon) may be older, but Kate (Dakota Johnson) is grown-up of the pair. I’m assuming she owns a bar, that is, because I don’t really see how she could afford such a covet-worthy house as a bartender, unless they had some wealthy aunt die or something. Anyway, Ben blows back into town to stop his ex’s wedding (the lovely Lauren Miller guest-starring) and ends up staying to help out with the ridiculously adorable Maddie (Maggie Elizabeth Jones).

I’m really loving everything else about FOX Tuesdays, so I was hoping Ben and Kate would be the last piece of the puzzle for a perfect 2-hour comedy block. It doesn’t quite fit, unfortunately. Nat Faxon’s particular brand of man-child humor seemed like it would be at home with the stunted growth of the Chance family (Raising Hope) – also raising an adorable kid – and the semi-ept duo of Jess (New Girl) and Mindy (The Mindy Project), but it didn’t really click for me. Besides being weirdly grossed out by Faxon’s teeth, I didn’t find any of his bits really hilarious. The indignation at Kate’s beau’s inability to high-five properly and his terrible driving (Ben’s attempt to reverse his giant station wagon went from a Y-turn, to a K-turn, to a what is that -turn) left me mildly amused, at least.

The highlight though, is the casting of Maggie Elizabeth Jones. Maddie is beyond adorable and definitely up to the challenge of following the titular Raising Hope. Her reaction shots were spot-on, and the mommy-daughter matching pajamas were almost too much cute to handle. I also was pleased to see Lucy Punch, who’s a brilliant comedienne and hasn’t been featured on a network show since 2006’s The Class, which was horrible despite its great cast (much of which is on better programming now). The other high point for me was definitely the set decoration; the home decor was ridiculously covetable, despite the fact that it should be a fantasy for Kate as well as me.

Overall, though, I’m having a really hard time getting a read on Ben and Kate. The premise is overdone right now – unusual family with cute kid – but it’s one that’s so broad that it could develop into really any kind of show. Faxon’s a great writer, we know that much, but it remains to be seen if he can develop the show into something that jives with my particular taste (or yours, really) and fits in with the rest of FOX’s programming.

Long Term Prediction:
Ben and Kate could go either way, depending on what kind of comedy groove it falls into. But I’ll be watching until I figure it out.

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