We have come to that time in the turning year when, faced with having to review another six-person relationship comedy, it falls upon us to ask, "Why is this relationship comedy different from all other relationship comedies?" As regard "Happy Endings," the short answer is that this one premieres Wednesday on ABC, is set in Chicago and begins with a groom left standing at the altar.
As it happens, it is also good. Created by TV first-timer David Caspe, the series has a lot of familiar muscle for support, including executive producers Jamie Tarses ("My Boys"), Jonathan Groff ("Late Night With Conan O'Brien," "How I Met Your Mother"), and Anthony and Joe Russo ("Arrested Development"), who also do some directing. It is nothing new, but it is well assembled and expertly played.
The six main characters break down into one married couple and four singles, one of them gay and two formerly affianced. In the first moments of the first episode, on the edge of an "I do," Alex (Eliza Cuthbert) leaves Dave (Zachary Knighton) for a guy on roller blades, who promptly disappears from the series. This seaworthy premise, that such an event might force mutual friends to choose among the abandoned and abandoning parties, is taken out for a spin, but only briefly, because the whole point of this show, and others like it -- the children of "Friends," -- is that they're all inseparably bonded. Indeed, when they venture outside their circle, it's with bad results.