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Thursday, March 15, 2007

FOX Gives Me "The Wedding Bells" Blues...

Behind the scenes of weddings and David E. Kelley (“Boston Legal,” “Ally McBeal”). It seemed like the perfect combination.

So how come it isn’t?

“The Wedding Bells” stars Teri Polo, KaDee Strickland and Sarah Jones as Jane, Annie and Sammy Bell. The Bell sisters run The Wedding Palace, a full-service wedding venue. Jane is married to Russell, the COO, but they are in a rut and Jane seems to have an eye for Enrico (Costas Mandylor), the chef. Annie is still getting over a break-up with David (Michael Landes), the wedding photographer, and won’t admit that she still has feelings for him. Sammy hooks up with a member of the wedding party, only to find out later he’s married.

In the premiere, the Bells are planning the wedding of Amanda Pontell (Kelley go-to-gal, Missi Pyle). Amanda instantly clashes with wedding singer Ralph (Chris Williams) and threatens to pull out of The Wedding Palace. But David, who the Bells use to calm the brides, talks her out of it, leaving them only to deal with Amanda’s mother (Delta Burke) who pays to have Jesus Christ mentioned three times during the wedding (The groom is Jewish.) and insists on cherries jubilee for the dessert.

Trouble strikes on the wedding day, though, as Amanda decides she doesn’t feel sexy enough to walk down the aisle. David comes to the rescue again and the wedding goes off without a hitch.

At the reception, Jane and Russell seem to reconnect and Annie and David admit their feelings for each other—just as the cherries jubilee set Amanda’s dress on fire.

The ending was typical David E. Kelley—irreverent and unexpected—but where was that for the rest of the hour? Yes, the bride was making unreasonable requests, but why weren’t they something more outrageous than just demanding a song be played a certain way? And how many times can the show go to the “Don’t worry, the good looking photographer will save the day” well?

There are also casting problems too. Teri Polo, who is a great actress, comes off so matronly in her dowdy outfits and her even dowdier hairstyle. I know she’s the married one, but come on! And listening to Costas Mandylor’s Italian accent is almost painful.

I have no doubt that Kelley will turn up the irreverence dial (“Boston Legal” was once a serious show too.), but it’s too late for me. And not even David the photographer can talk me out of this one.

“The Wedding Bells” airs Fridays at 9 p.m. on FOX…

Photos Courtesy of Gannett News Service