Imitation is the highest form of flattery, but it’s also a great formula for creating satisfying entertainment. TBS’ newest scripted comedy Wedding Band exemplifies this concept in almost every way. But while so many facets of its presentation can easily be traced back to the material it borrows from, Wedding Band still manages to become more than the sum of its parts and present something that is both funny and unique. Wedding Band premieres tonight, Saturday, November 10, 2012 at 10 p.m. (ET/PT) on TBS.
Wedding Band follows the lives of four good friends who play in a cover band called Mother of the Bride, which performs at weddings and other ubiquitous celebratory events. The band comprises the perpetual bachelor and lead singer Tommy (Brian Austin Green), his best friend and married man Eddie (Peter Cambor) on guitar, Eddie’s slacker brother Barry (Derek Miller) on drums, and new to the group, Stevie (Harold Perrineau) on bass. While the band has provided a nice escape from the doldrums of their everyday lives, the guys yearn for bigger and better things, which means catching the eye of top event coordinator Roxie Rutherford (Melora Hardin) and her long suffering junior associate Rachel (Jenny Wade). Can Mother of the Bride impress and hit stardom? Will they fade into obscurity? Will they get into silly hijinks while trying to keep it secret from Eddie’s wife (Kathryn Fiore)? Probably the last one.
It’s impressive how Wedding Band has borrowed so much from other properties. It’s as if the show creators took just enough from other television programs and movies, hoping that audiences would transpose their favorable opinions onto Wedding Band. For instance, the overall concept and the main plot of the pilot will conjure memories of the Adam Sandler film The Wedding Singer, where the singer is asked to perform at the wedding of the girl he obviously cares about. Then there’s the Vince Vaughn film Wedding Crashers, where the heroes of the movie try to sleep with women at weddings. That’s replicated here, including a reference to “motorboating”. The character Barry looks and behaves like rocker/actor Jack Black and even shares the same character name from Black’s music-centric film High Fidelity. The musical interludes that punctuate the show remind of Glee. Finally, even the font of the show’s title seems lifted from the video game Rock Band. Thankfully, there’s enough that’s different to make Wedding Band its own show, but the allusions – at least in the pilot – are impossible to ignore.
Similarities aside, Wedding Band is still funny in its own right, balancing practical comedy with absurdity. For instance, the first gig Mother of the Bride gets with Roxie Rutherford is also the first wedding that her associate Rachel gets to manage. So, of course, the band is late, someone gets punched in the face and a breast implant starts leaking. Performances are also strong throughout and all of the actors have good sense of timing, without overplaying their parts. Melora Hardin does a great job adding a streak of eccentric oddball to her otherwise overbearing boss persona. The writing is upbeat and full of truths about human interaction – even if they’re only true within the universe of the show. Ultimately, Wedding Band does what it needs to do: make viewers laugh.
Fortunately, the spaces in between the humor are just as enjoyable. There are relationships that feel like there’s real history behind them, and watching the guys celebrate with a song after narrowly avoiding disaster is uniquely satisfying. While the hour-long show sometimes doesn’t feel long enough to develop everyone well, the series will hopefully last long enough to give all the characters room to grow. If the writing and the acting can keep delivering what the pilot offers, then expect to watch Wedding Band for a long time to come.
Wedding Band premieres tonight, Saturday, November 10, 2012 at 10 p.m. (ET/PT) on TBS.