Once upon a time, ABC aired a goofy show about a probably crazy guy who thought he was Cupid, the Roman god of love. It was a dramedy that starred Jeremy Piven as the title guy on a mission to help 100 couples find true love so he could get back to Mount Olympus. While it wasn't a surprise that Cupid only survived one 15-episode season, the fact that it became a cult favorite to the extent of being named one of E! Online's "Top Ten Shows Cancelled Before Their Time" was.
Whether creator Rob Thomas' second incarnation of Cupid is better or worse than the original will certainly be debated, but none of that really matters. It's a tough time to be a television show, and this new Jeremy Piven-less Cupid will have its work cut out for it when it premieres on ABC on Tuesday, March 31, at 10 p.m. ET/PT after Dancing With the Stars.
Bobby Cannavale stars as Cupid, or Trevor Pierce when he doesn't want to freak people out. While trying to help an Irish street musician named Dave (who is on his own mission to find an American woman he met in a Dublin pub), Trevor gets arrested and tossed in a mental institution. Trevor charms most he meets, but he does insist that he's the actual Roman god of love, Cupid. After being released from the institution he ends up under the care of psychiatrist and self-help author Dr. Claire McCrae (Sarah Paulson).
Claire soon learns that Trevor, aka Cupid, humored her to get released from the institution. He believes he's got to help 100 couples find true love, and he's not about to let a little thing like not having his magic arrows get in his way.
So is Trevor Cupid or just some poor deluded loony? There is evidence to support both theories, but don't expect an answer unless Cupid has a nice long run.
This first pilot episode, creatively called "Pilot," quickly digs into the simple premise. It's neither hysterically funny nor terribly dramatic. However, Cupid does grow on you, and in the end it touches the heartstrings just a bit.
Cannavale may not be Piven, but he does eventually inhabit the role. He's charming, and we like him. Sarah Paulson has the tougher role as the stuck-up Claire, who has certainly taken a romantic hit. But Paulson also becomes more endearing over time.
Cupid certainly seems too gentle and subtle for today's audience, which embraces shows like The Bachelor as something romantic. Is it actually possible for Cupid to succeed considering that no actual hearts were broken in the making of this television series? Let's hope so.
Cupid is a sweet throwback to what many of us want to believe romance should be. It's not slick or snide or manipulative, which by its very nature should mean it has no right to survive on television today. But thanks Rob Thomas and ABC, Cupid deserves another go, even if we're too grown-up to appreciate it ... again.