08/06/2014 12:08 EDT | Updated 10/06/2014 05:59 EDT

'Partners' Review: This Needs A Time Machine To Be Funny


If you were a fan of Frasier Crane and Martin Payne (ha, I'm a poet and didn't even know it), then you may have had high hopes for Kelsey Grammer and Martin Lawrence's new sitcom, "Partners." But the jokes they're reciting are practically straight out of the '90s sitcoms that made them household names.

Grammer and Lawrence seem like an unlikely pairing, and when you see them together in the FX sitcom*, as lawyers Allen Braddock and Marcus Jackson, respectively, it's pretty much what you expect. How they come together is completely contrived as they meet, work together and become partners. The trouble is, neither man likes the other so it makes zero sense.

"Partners" has been compared to the 2012 CBS series with the same name and while they share that forced, laugh-track-y quality, the series which starred Michael Urie and David Krumholtz didn't stand a chance. Grammer's and Lawrence's comedy, which seems like it belongs on CBS but actually calls FX (and Global in Canada) home, has hopes -- if the dialogue can be completely overhauled.

It's like co-creators Robert Horn ("Living Single," "High Society") and Robert L. Boyett ("Full House," "Family Matters") are stuck in a time warp. If they could only give their veteran stars the kind of material they're worthy of now -- and not what they were worthy of then -- they could have a moderate hit. But it seems like their goal is to phone it in and are working on a "churn out crap now, worry about the outcome later" plan. They could very well be crossing their fingers that the first 10 episodes perform half-decently and follow in "Anger Management'"s footsteps with FX's 10/90 rule (if 10 do well, 90 more eps get ordered). Charlie Sheen's series scored huge ratings, but "Partners" likely won't get the same viewership.

Opposites are supposed to attract and if the writing was halfway decent, it could've been great. But Grammer and Lawrence look downright gloomy as they regurgitate the terrible, dated lines on the page. Honestly, it's like they're not even trying. And who can blame them, what with the flimsy, try-hard one-liners which are cringe- and groan-worthy, at best?

The first two episodes, which air back-to-back on Global, are more like "Two and a Half Men" and "2 Broke Girls" with a little "Step by Step" thrown in. So, yeah, not good. And so not in keeping with FX's other edgier comedies ("Louie," "Married," "You're the Worst"), but maybe it was just looking for something to pair with "Anger Management?" Or perhaps they were just looking to pass the time and earn an easy paycheque in between their big-screen endeavours ("Bad Boys 3" for Lawrence, he hopes; the third instalment of "The Expendables" franchise for Grammer)? Either way, no one wins here; I'm just not sure who's the bigger loser -- the stars or the viewers.

*term used loosely

"Partners" premieres with back-to-back episodes on Thursday, Aug. 7 at 8 p.m. ET and 8:30 p.m. ET on Global.

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