Benched, Star World Premiere, Fridays, 8.30 pm
By Siddhi Pathak
After a series like Suits became the talk of the town, the general perception was that a series on law is cerebral and caters to a highbrow audience. However, with the all new comic legal series Benched, that has changed. The uniqueness of this show lies in how it combines something as serious as law, gives it a comic spin using the personal travails of a young lawyer. Benched revolves around the life of Nina Whitley (Eliza Coupe), a witty, charming, 32 year old, Public Defender. The pilot begins with corporate attorney Nina in the midst of a nervous breakdown in her office after she discovers her ex-fiancé is engaged to someone else. A frustrated, overworked Nina breaks a vase and walks out of her job as well as corporate law only to land in the unkempt, dingy office of a Public Defender. She soon becomes the talk of office and has to face Trent (Carter MacIntyre), her ex-fiancé, at the District Attorney’s office.
Nina embodies a powerful, independent woman, going through a beaten phase. She is attractive, impulsive and is a complete misfit at her new workplace. A lot of humourous scenes flow in seamlessly while she tries to fit in and settle down. This leads to several awkward moments which in turn become hilarious for the audience. Nina’s character has been written very well. Not only is her comic timing amazing, but her words are also harsh, unapologetic and she doesn’t shy away from being nasty. She says what she intends to and does what she has to. For instance, she assumes that an intern in her new office is a lesbian and then even goes to the extent of calling her ‘a Hogwarts dropout’. Even her love-hate relationship with her new colleague, Phil (Jay Harrington) adds a lot of spice, is full of puns and keeps you on the edge of your seat. A great attraction to the show is Nina’s new collague Carlos, played by Oscar Nunez of The Office fame. We don’t see much of him in the pilot, but he comes in handy with a few gags. Hopefully, he will be honed further in the subsequent episodes and will be put to better use in the series. The contrast in Nina’s old and new life has also been depicted extremely well and is used as an effective tool in creating some laughs. Even though Nina crashes from a powerful position to a menial one, her proud demeanor and self-confidence are intact. It gears the audience for a surprise from the very first episode itself.
Some of the puns do fall flat and Nina’s excessive bluntness is sometimes unreal. However, Benched makes for a unique show, combining bits of romance, law and comedy to leave you smiling.
Verdict: Already full of twist and turns, this comic legal series will soon catch up if it continues to strike the perfect balance.