‘Ben and Kate’ Preview: Can This Brother-Sister FOX Comedy Be a Hit?
Created by Dana Fox — one third of “The Fempire” alongside Diablo Cody and Lorene Scafaria — Ben and Kate follows Ben (Nat Faxon) and Kate (Dakota Johnson) as a bickering brother-sister duo with polar opposite personalities who decide to move in together. The comedy is partially based on Fox’s relationship with her older brother.
What’s the scoop on Ben and Kate?
Who’s who: Oscar winning screenwriter Nat Faxon plays poor, bumbling Ben, while Dakota Johnson — daughter of Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith — portrays his poor, clueless younger sister Kate. At only 7-years-old, We Bought a Zoo star Maggie Elizabeth Jones is definitely a scene-stealer as Kate’s daughter Maddie while Lucy Punch adds some much-needed — albeit sometimes obnoxious — humor as Kate’s BBFF (British Best Friend Forever), BJ. And then there’s Echo Kellum, who plays Ben’s friend Tommy.
Buzz: Faxon took home an Academy Award for co-writing the screenplay for the film The Descendants. However, when asked at the TCAs if he intended to do any writing for Ben and Kate, he replied, “Not at the moment. We have a fantastic writing staff, and they do a phenomenal job. I really enjoy acting and performing and what they do for me.” As for Johnson, although she’s a relative newcomer to TV, her family has been in the business for decades. That means that there will be plenty of watchful eyes on the young actress’ performance.
Workin’ it: Even though Ben and Kate could best be described as corny, it has a lot of potential to reach Modern Family-levels of tenderness. Did we mention that Maggie Elizabeth Jones is the best part of the show? The show would benefit from more screen time dedicated to Maddie and BJ’s girly bonding sessions.
Not so much: “We’re like two peas in, like, the worst pod ever.” We agree, Ben! There’s so much potential for Faxon and Johnson to become TV’s next great odd couple, but the pair’s chemistry is overshadowed by the childish writing and sitcom clichés.
Celebuzz meter (1-10): 5. While Ben and Kate may not be laugh-out-loud funny, it does have a lot of heart. Not to mention that Jones is a future star in the making.
Ben and Kate officially premieres Sept. 25 at 8:30 PM on FOX but the entire pilot episode is now available online.