Pasadena, Calif. • "Mad Love" is like two sitcoms in one.
It's a romantic comedy. But it's also sort of an anti-romantic comedy.
"I have this kind of love-hate relationship with romantic comedies," said creator/executive producer Matt Tarses. "I find myself drawn to them. I also find myself hating myself for being drawn to them. So I thought what about a show that encapsulated both those attitudes?"
The result is extremely likable and funny, even sometimes hilarious. Monday's premiere (7:30 p.m. CBS/Ch. 2) is one of the better comedy pilots to come along this season, and shows promise of being one of the better comedies on TV.
"Mad Love" is about two couples. Well, one couple and their best friends, who take an instant dislike to one another. Or not.
The series starts where a lot of romantic comedies end on the observation deck of the Empire State Building, where Ben (Jason Biggs) and Kate (Sarah Chalke) fall hopelessly in love at first sight.
This being a continuing series, there will be a lot of complications along the way, of course.
Not the least of which are their best friends. Connie (Judy Greer) can't stand Larry (Tyler Labine), and they get most of the big laughs.
"I'm mostly being used as an acerbic tool on the show, I think," Labine said. "And, yes, I did just call myself a tool."
As she was on "Scrubs" and "How I Met Your Mother," Chalke is incredibly likable. It's hard not to fall in love with her as Kate. And, like their characters, Chalke and Biggs ("American Pie") seem to have great chemistry from the get-go.
So do Labine and Greer although they give off sparks of a different kind.
"I think the key for me is underneath it, there is this something else," Tarses said. "They don't hate each other. I think they really secretly like each other a lot."
A sitcom about a pair of people hopelessly in love-at-first-sight would be tough to pull off. As would a sitcom about two people who instantly rub each other the wrong way but have an underlying attraction.
Somehow, this sitcom about both those couples works. Or, at least, gets off to a strong start.
"The idea is that the focus is the best friends as much as it is on the couple that's traditionally the lead," said Tarses, whose credits include "Scrubs" and "Sports Night."
"[Larry and Connie] kind of enjoy that combative thing they have. And over time, hopefully, if we're [a success], they'll come to realize that."
Here's hoping they'll have time to come to that realization.
Scott D. Pierce's column appears Mondays and Fridays in The Mix. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 801-257-8603. Check out the TV or not TV blog at sltrib.com/blogs/tv.
It's a mad, mad, mad sitcom world
"Mad Love" premieres, fittingly, on Monday, Feb. 14, at 7:30 p.m. on CBS Channel 2.