powered by FreeFind

Apple iTunes


New series review: The Wedding Bells (Fox)

Bridezilla tamers: Wedding Bell sisters Sammy, Jane and Annie

Premiering: Wednesday (March 7) at 8 p.m. central on Fox before moving to Fridays at the same hour
Starring: Teri Polo, KaDee Strickland, Sarah Jones, Michael Landes, Benjamin King, Chris Williams
Produced by: David E. Kelley, Jason Katims, Jonathan Pontell

Fox would love to be even a bridesmaid on Friday nights, and maybe The Wedding Bells finally can make that happen.

Sneak-previewing on Wednesday after American Idol, this latest David E. Kelley (Boston Legal, Ally McBeal) creation takes the cake more often than not. Its first hour is a fun, feathery romp, without any heavy lifting or laborious character assembly required. Week to week, the three disparate Bell sisters and their staff will take on the impossible assignment of pulling off a perfect wedding or two. As a viewer, you're simply required to show up, sit back and escape the wear and tear of a taxing serial drama.

Bells will repeat its Wednesday premiere episode on Friday, where Fox hasn't had an audience-pleaser since The X-Files in the mid-1990s. There's no potentially alienating alien "mythology" in Wedding Bells. All you need to know is that oldest sister Jane (Teri Polo) is halfway happily married, middle sis Annie (KaDee Strickland) is loveless and kid sister Sammy (Sarah Jones) sleeps around a lot, sometimes with one of the groom's attendants.

Rakish photographer David Conlon (Michael Landes) also is in the mix at the Bells' family-owned Wedding Palace, inherited from the sisters' divorced parents. Jane's persnickety husband, Russell (Benjamin King), is the COO and Ralph Snow (Chris Williams) does the wedding singer chores.

Self-absorbed bridezilla Amanda Pontell (Missi Pyle), on whom the first episode focuses, will become a regular character later on. For starters, she and Jane Bell have a ringing declaration of a scene that's pure Kelley-ian.

"The secure marriages are the ones that die by neglect," Jane tells Amanda, who's demanding a refund after trading insults with the wedding singer. "The fragile turn out to be the most lasting."

"That response did not satisfy me at all," Amanda retorts. "That was a wretched answer. You have upset me further, wedding planner. I feel a deep woe now."

Amanda gets this from her domineering mother, Stella (guest star Delta Burke), a self-described "acquired taste" who slips Sammy Bell $500 to get the minister to say "Jesus Christ" twice during Amanda's "I do's" to a Jew.

Sammy otherwise has been playing with the merchandise again.

"Sammy, you have 'sex hair.' Who was it?" sister Jane demands after she returns from instructing the groomsmen in the fine art of lining up to potentially bed her.

Wedding Bells isn't likely to have an overwhelming number of male viewers, but women might well go wild for it. It's a contemporary Love Boat meets Love, American Style, with maybe a splash or two of Designing Women.

Whatever works. Fox merely wants a Friday night marriage that's strong enough to get to a second season. Could this be the one?

Grade: B+