"Benched," USA Network's latest foray into comedy, might feel like a female-led, updated version of "Night Court," but its title has an unintended duality. Thanks to the casting of two actors from critically acclaimed-but-cancelled series (Jay Harrington of "Better Off Ted" and Eliza Coupe of "Happy Endings"), it's like the show called in ringers who've otherwise been relegated to the sidelines.
The series kicks off with a scene most people have probably fantasized about once or twice in their lives: an epic meltdown. It all happens when corporate lawyer Nina (Coupe) learns her ex-fiancé is engaged right before she's passed over for a promotion; she then quits her job in the most spectacular, awkward way possible. Fast-forward a few weeks and Nina has found herself a new gig as a public defender alongside a clan of Breakfast Club personalities, including romantic interest Phil (Harrington) and co-workers Carlos (Oscar Nunez, "The Office"), Michah (Jolene Purdy, "Under the Dome") and Sheryl Maria Bamford ("Arrested Development").
Joining a legal show -- even a comedic one -- has turned Coupe into something of a law show aficionado.
"I used to watch 'Night Court' like crazy as a kid," she tells HuffPost Canada TV. "I definitely watched 'Ally McBeal' too. I just started watching 'The Good Wife' like a month ago. I definitely don't think Nina is like her, but I watched it because doing a show that has to do with law, it's like I'm actually more drawn to shows about the legal system."
There's an element of romantic comedy at play too, with Phil being the laid-back guy who potentially brings a sense of balance to Nina's overly neurotic life. Fittingly, Coupe says that he always seems to be eating in every single scene, much in the vein of Elisha Cuthbert's Alex character on "Happy Endings." But whether anything will come of it remains to be seen, especially since she's still getting over ex-fiancé Trent (Carter MacIntyre, "Drop Dead Diva"), whom she immediately encounters on her first day of the new job. Coupe promises dates with other gentlemen could come into play as well.
"We do see one date; it doesn't go great if you can imagine that. Shocking," she laughs. "So there is one, but there might be a bit of a love triangle. There might be a little of a 'Who's she going to end up with?' situation."
"Benched" features the courtroom and several bullpens where the lawyers actually work, and they're characters as much as the actors. In the pilot, everyone must work through an unidentified stench in the former, while the "offices" easily lend themselves to physical comedy thanks to their rundown conditions. As long as she has her way, Coupe promises those "stunts" will keep on coming.
"I have actual bruises; I do a lot of my own stuff, because I like to, and my body is proof," she says. "But I welcome them because it's fun. It's a lot more fun to do them than to have a stunt double. I definitely have a stunt double for some of the bigger stuff -- don't get me wrong -- but most of it I do myself because it's just more real and it's funnier and I like doing it."
One thing we won't see on "Benched," at least right away, is a cameo or role featuring co-creator Michaela Watkins ("Trophy Wife"), who opted to stay behind the cameras this time around as a writer and producer. But that doesn't mean she can't step in front of them in the near future.
"Oh my god, I hope she does," Coupe wraps. "She's got to. I need that. I need that in my life; I need to act opposite of her. It's on my bucket list."
"Benched" debuts Tuesday, Oct. 28 at 10:30 p.m. ET on The Comedy Network in Canada.