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Fall TV Preview: Ben and Kate Bring On the Big-Kid Laughs

BEN AND KATE Patrick Ecclesine/FOX

Adorable child actor? Check. Academy Award-winning screenwriter? Check. Hollywood progeny? Check. If that's not the winning recipe to a prime-time comedy success, we don't know what is.

Fox's new comedy Ben and Kate has found a fortunate home between proven family comedy Raising Hope and the highly anticipated The Mindy Project. Will Ben and Kate keep up with the Joneses or will it fall flat on its face?

Ben and Kate (FOX)
Premieres:
Tuesday, Sept. 25 at 8:30 p.m.
Time-Slot Competition:
Dancing with the Stars (ABC), NCIS (CBS), Hart of Dixie (CW), The Voice (NBC)
Cast:
Nat Faxon, Dakota Johnson, Maggie Elizabeth Jones, Lucy Punch, Echo Kellum
Status:
  We've seen the pilot episode

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We'll be honest. When we first heard the premise of Ben and Kate we weren't particularly jumping out of our seats with excitement. A 20-something single mother is pushed outside her comfort zone each time her screwball brother arrives unexpectedly. A novel concept? Maybe not. But we were definitely surprised to find the show pushing against the usual "precocious child" clichés with unique characters and occasional wit.

From creator Dana Fox comes the story of a brother and sister duo who raised each other. Kate (Johnson) hasn't had the best break in life. Getting pregnant just shy of her college graduation, she puts her life on hold to raise her young daughter Maddie (Jones). Older brother Ben (Faxon) rejects the responsibility of the real world and lives a free-spirited life full of harebrained schemes and quirky one-liners. When Ben pops back into Kate's life unannounced, he threatens to derail her burgeoning dating life.  

While not every joke is laugh-out-loud funny, the well-cast ensemble makes up for the show's shortcomings. Multi-talented Faxon (Oscar-winning coscreenwriter of The Descendants and member of Groundlings improv group) creates an endearing character whose ridiculous antics are eclipsed by his charm. Johnson, whose good genes come from father Don Johnson and mother Melanie Griffith, may not be the most convincing single-mom on TV, but she does a convincing job balancing the silly with the dramatic. Newcomer Echo Kellum flourishes in his role as Ben's best friend and Kate's not-so-secret admirer while British actress Lucy Punch gives the funniest performance of the pilot as Kate's sexy and inappropriate best friend.

Check out all of our reviews of fall's new shows

Our Review in GIF form:

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Verdict: Watch. With some time Ben and Kate has the potential to be one of the better comedies of the season.     

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