Valentine is a new romantic comedy/drama brought to us by Kevin Murphy, co-executive producer on Desperate Housewives, and the writer of the musical version of Reefer Madness (he then produced a film version of same).
The premise is this: (Some of) the Greek gods are alive and living in LA, trying to eek out their divine existence by acting as agents of the Fates by bringing together soulmates who would otherwise miss their chance at True Love. Jaime Murray plays Grace Valentine (aka Aphrodite), who runs the ‘family business’. Kristoffer Polaha plays Danny “Eros” Valentine, as womanizing and playful as you’d expect a 20-something Cupid to be. Autumn Reeser is Phoebe Valentine, aka the Oracle of Delphi, though I wonder why she strikes me as being fairly Persephone-esque. Why they went with a deified Oracle is an interesting question. Robert Baker plays Leo Francisi, aka Hercules. In an amusing turn, Grace is currently married to Ari Valentine (aka Ares), but cheating on him with her original husband, Ray “Hephaestus” Howard, who is far more hunky in this version than classical depictions.
The Valentines help the fated lovers when the Fates send out a card to one of the Valentine’s many cover businesses (e.g. Valentine plumbing).
The formula suggested by the pilot leads me to think that the show will try to balance the romantic comedy and drama genre categories as such: the romantic comedy element will come from the Couple of the Week, the Valentine’s ‘clients’ — this gives a procedural element to provide guest stars and extra plot to goad the Valentines into character development; the drama will come from the Valentine’s interpersonal squabbles, their struggle to remain relevant (and therefore divine).
All of this might be enough to try to make a show happen on its own, but the Valentines, realizing that their understanding of how mortals think of love is outdated, recruit a genuine romantic in Kate Prudence, a romance writer (who strikes me as being an ‘unlucky in love’ sort, meaning that we’ll also follow her personal efforts in love). An amusing note from the introduction of Kate — she’s doing a reading from a novel to a room full of women of all adult ages — and then a middle-aged bespectacled man walks in, gets embarassed, and then says he’ll just order the book on amazon — then leaves. This could be read as a reminder that men are embarassed about liking romance novels if they do, or that men aren’t the audience for them — which also suggests men aren’t the audience for the show. Further episodes may clarify this message.
Initial figures on ratings are not promising: TV by the Numbers shows a 0.3 figure for the pilot, or just over 1 million viewers. The show is not likely to survive with ratings like that, even if it manages to cohere and improve from the solid but somewhat unremarkable beginning.