Wait … what was the question again?
Oh yes, will I watch Wedding Band, which premiered on TBS on November 10 in USA, and just last night here in Australia, for as long as we both shall live or till falling ratings do us part?
Why yes, yes I will thank you.
Thing is I suspect it is going to be a rather long, fruitful, and musically-rich relationship.
Why is that you ask?
What is so compelling about this one show, one among many great shows in this new golden age of television, that you are going to faithfully make time for it every week when you already have more televisual goodness than your sore, tooth-pick propped eyes can handle?
Well for a start dear reader (and I thank you for your interest, I really do) I walked away at the end of the episode liking each and every one of the characters who, miraculously within the confines of a pilot episode when everything but the kitchen sink must be introduced (and I suspect that even made it in when we first meet mostly happily-married Eddie), were given to us as fully-fleshed people worthy of watching every week.
That is some impressive writing – thank you Darin Moiselle and Josh Lobis, ex-South Park, for your well chosen words (they also serve as executive producers with one Mike Tollin), and acting (thank you everyone, and yes I mean everyone) and singalong-inducing musicianship (the covers that pepper the show are inspired and not poor cousins to the originals) going on there Wedding Band.
And there is a lot going on, pretty much from the moment the opening scene pans over the Seattle skyline, and the iconic Space Needle and we meet the band in question.
In quick succession, we are introduced to Tommy (Brian Austin Green, Beverly Hills 90210), gleefully described as a “perma-bachelor” and introduced seducing another in a long of women, married Eddie (Peter Cambor, Notes From the Underbelly) who juggles work and the band, and choices over pirates for a birthday party (“Somali or Caribbean?”) not always successfully, and Eddie’s goofy well-meaning brother Barry (Derek Miller, Secret Girlfriend) who rocks the drums, adores the big pyrotechnic moment and is, and this is a good thing I believe, “Del Taco Customer of the Month”.
And then there is “new guy” Stevie (Harold Perrinau, Lost), later revealed as a session player who has done his thing with all the big names and wants in on the band because he believes, quite rightly based on the amazing music that fills, as you’d expect, most scenes of the show, that they “have something special”.
His arrival is cleverly used to explain what the band does – lots of weddings and even a Bar Mitzvah in slightly cheesy hotels with a cast of guests who run the gamut from desperately lonely and amply proportioned to socially ill-adept – and more importantly, and this is where the show really excels, why they do what they do.
And this my dear friends is where the show stubbornly, and to a most rapturous, and yes relieved, welcome from me, refuses to go down cliche avenue.
Where you might be expecting more jaded cynicism, and bitter regret at musical talent unfulfilled than you could throw a bouquet at, of which we would tire quite quickly as viewers since it tends to be a surly one trick pony, you get instead a group of men who actually believe in what they do.
Imagine that ye addicts of post modern ennui!
More than that, they love what they do, and they take it seriously.
Would they like a chart-topping album, a world tour and the creative kudos that comes from being recognised as rock gods?
Of course they would – seriously who wouldn’t? – but while that is an aspiration, they are also savvy enough to know there is a very real chance they may never get there at all, and so rather than tolerating what many would regard as a halfway house to true musical glory, they own where they are now, live it with a passion and treat it as a calling, a mission.
After all, they make a difference in peoples’ lives, get to play their music, and keep the bonds of friendship strong, and in life that’s a pretty decent roll call of achievements.
And thankfully they know that.
They are also pretty damn funny.
In amongst the drama of saying goodbye to the great love of your life – Tommy agrees to play at the wedding of his ex and one true love, Sara (Bree Turner, Grimm) which exposes what caused the split between the two – there is slapstick humour (behold an important life lesson: be careful where you aim the champagne cork!), scuffles with a rival band called Armageddon It which involves fake British accents and kilts (don’t ask; OK yes do), quips aplenty especially by ballsy events company owner Roxie Rutherford (Melora Hardin, The Office) who envisions an interesting line in earrings and chokers, and sight gags (name me a band who has their meetings on kids’ seats shaped like mushrooms?).
Mixing drama and humour is not an easy thing to do but Wedding Band makes it look effortless, with each element bolstering the other than detracting from it.
The show also manages, and this is truly a miracle of non-Hallmark-esque proportions, to be sweet and endearing without making you feel like you are suffering the sugar rush after effects of ingesting all that leftover Halloween candy you really should have given to the needy children at the orphanage.
It is true that there are cliches galore in the show – the douchbag lead singer with a heart (Tommy), the harried dad (Eddie) and his often-irritated wife, Ingrid (Kathryn Fiore, Good Luck Charlie), the ruthless cougar-ish businesswoman (Roxie) and her sweetly ambitious much put upon assistant (Rachel, played by Jenny Wade, American Horror Story), the goofy drummer with grand ideas (Barry) and the quiet much-accomplished type (Steve) – but what show does have them?
It all comes down to how originally you use them, and Wedding Band uses them very well, exhibiting a willingness to play with convention and zig where you might, O wearied viewer you, expect them to zag.
And that is an accomplishment of great import in today’s oft-derivative culture where tropes and memes are often copied but never used imaginatively or improved on.
While I hear that it’s time slot in the USA isn’t the best – 10pm on a Saturday anyone? Yes you club-goer, linger a little before you boogie the night away – you can only hope that anyone who values smart writing, inspired acting, a deft mix of comedy and drama, and awesomely great music will stick around and check out a show that deserves to be around far longer than the time it takes to say “I do”.