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Review: 'Wedding Band' plays too long but has a good beat

The new TBS show, headlined by Brian Austin Green, stretches the sitcom format to an hour but doesn't quite know how to fill it. Still, it has its moments.

November 10, 2012|By Robert Lloyd, Los Angeles Times Television Critic
  • Brian Austin Green, center, stars in "The Wedding Band."
Brian Austin Green, center, stars in "The Wedding Band." (Darren Michaels / Turner )

In "Wedding Band," which premieres Saturday on TBS, Brian Austin Green, who was on "Beverly Hills 90210" for a decade, plays Tommy, the lead singer and rhythm guitarist of an aging quartet available for weddings and bar mitzvahs in the rocktropolis of Seattle. (Local references in the script include Kurt and Courtney for the masses, the Tractor Tavern for the cognoscenti.) Spun a certain way, the premise might have produced a kind of younger musical companion to sister network TNT's late "Men of a Certain Age." But this is not that.

This is a sitcom, stretched to fit an hour frame. We are in that familiar world of ridiculous scrapes and impetuous fibs where characters run around crazily not to be caught out in lies they'll be caught in anyway, just before everything works out fine. (It just takes 22 minutes longer here.) There are many moments when Things That Would Never Happen happen and people say Things People Never Say.

Alongside Tommy in his band is lead guitarist Eddie (Peter Cambor), with whom he once shared big indie rock dreams. Eddie is the show's married guy, with children. Wife Ingrid (Kathryn Fiore) is a police detective, which matters more in the three episodes I've seen than the day jobs of any of the band members.

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Drummer Barry (Derek Miller) starts out as a Jack Black wild man but softens afterward. "New guy" bassist Stevie (Harold Perrineau, from "Lost") is a successful session musician who wants the camaraderie of a real band. ("You cats don't even know what you have," he says longingly, and I love that he says, "You cats.")

Some of the situations — band passes up paying job to throw a party to help high school nerds score with cute girls, for example — could have worked, say, on "The Monkees," because there would have been go-karts and a man in a gorilla suit and Russian spies to tell you how not-seriously to take things. Here, you need to look away from the clichés.

The show's female cohort includes, along with Fiore, Melora Hardin as Roxie, the city's premier party planner, and Jenny Wade as Rachel, her bumbling-in-a-hot-way protégée: "When I look at you, Rachel, it's almost like I'm looking at myself in the mirror," Roxie says, "only I don't like the necklace I'm wearing." There is cleavage throughout.

Despite the show's weaknesses, everyone is working with evident enthusiasm. On the edge of 40, Green is better-looking now than in the years of his greater celebrity and is a genuinely charming comic actor who lets us see the imperfect lug inside the big hunk he can't help being.

And there are the music and the party scenes. The actors clearly know their way around their instruments. And there is something reliably exciting in a roomful of people slamming it to the left and shaking it to the right and throwing their hands in the air like they just don't care; the celebration and surrender are enough to put the viewer in a vicarious good mood, no matter how unconvincing its context.

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Where: TBS

When: 10 p.m. Saturday

Rating: TV-MA-L (may be unsuitable for children under the age of 17 with an advisory for coarse language)

robert.lloyd@latimes.com

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