'Partners' will make you laugh in spite of stale jokes

partners-review-cbs.jpgIn this age of smart, single-camera comedies, watching CBS' new sitcom "Partners" feels like an unwelcome walk down memory lane. It's filled with cliches, obvious jokes and seemingly canned laughter...but you'll still laugh in spite of yourself.

"Partners" follows the lifelong BFF-ship between David Krumholtz's Joe and Michael Urie's Louis, who are now partners in their own New York City architecture firm. Krumholtz is the likable Jewish everyguy; Urie is his overwhelming gay friend.

Complicating their bromance is the fact that Joe has just gotten engaged to jewelry designer Ali ( Sophia Bush), and Urie is in a long-term relationship with the handsome but dimwitted nurse Wyatt ( Brandon Routh). Urie meddles; hijinks ensue.

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Despite the old-school, obvious gay/straight jokes that pepper the sitcom, it's hard not to see some potential in the cast of the comedy, from "Will & Grace" creators David Kohan and Max Mutchnick. Krumholtz and Bush are down to Earth and likable, while Urie can deliver a punchline like no other. The problem is that it feels like we've heard these punchlines many times before.

The weakest links in the ensemble are Routh, who is handsome and funny elsewhere but here seems confused (It's cool, buddy -- we're not quite sure why you're there either), and Tracy Vilar, who plays the loudmouthed assistant Ro-Ro. Actually, it's not that Vilar is bad -- she's such a good sport and really commits to those stale jokes -- it's that she has three awful, stereotypical asides for every mildly amusing moment. She's the Sue Sylvester of the series, if Sue Sylvester were written by the person who pens the racist "jokes" on "2 Broke Girls."

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The pilot shows promise, especially seeing the chemistry between (at least three of) the leads, but Episode 2 treads no new sitcom ground. You might as well watch while wearing your favorite acid wash jeans, because you'll probably feel like you time-traveled back to the '90s. It's never a good sign when your second episode is worse than your pilot.

Still, you'll chuckle more than once. There's funny in there somewhere! Given some time to find its balance, "Partners" could turn into a comforting multi-camera sitcom much like "The Big Bang Theory." If not, we may have the next "Whitney" on our hands -- that got a second season on NBC, but it would never fly on CBS. Fingers crossed for the former.

"Partners" airs Mondays at 8:30 p.m. on CBS.
Photo/Video credit: CBS