'Valentine'

Empty

Some premises probably sound a lot better when they're being pitched than they turn out to be while you're actually making the thing. I imagine this was the case with the CW's "Valentine."

No, it's not an homage to Dean Valentine, the former entertainment chief at the now-defunct UPN. It's a wiggy fantasy about a family of Greek gods (you know the kind) who live today up on Mount Olympus — that area just off Laurel Canyon — and watch life go by from up on high. They also come down to try to impact it in their own dysfunctional way, awkwardly pointing the way toward hooking people up with their soulmate no matter how meddling it might prove to be.

While the hour is not without its charm, it's just a tad too precious for its own good — so taken with its own lithe coolness that it rather destroys any chance it might have to connect with us on anything greater than a superficial level.

So the deal here is that the gods of fable and lore essentially are young misfits struggling to get along like any other family. They live together in a mansion, like they do on any self-respecting reality show, and are presided over by a snippy Brit named Grace Valentine (Jaime Murray). Grace is supposed to be a stand-in for Aphrodite, but the shoe doesn't fit terribly well. Son Danny, aka Eros (Kristoffer Polaha) is the god of erotic love but uses a gun instead of a bow and arrow.

There also are stand-ins here for Hercules and the mortal community, and again, the whole idea is that the gods must be crazy. They can't do much of anything right, which evidently is why the world is so screwed up. But even that isn't entirely clear in an opening script from creator-exec producer Kevin Murphy that substitutes ambiguity and preening for cleverness and charisma among the characters.

Speaking of them, there is nobody straight out of the gate to root for in "Valentine," which presents a bit of a problem when your show is all about personality. Take away the likability factor, and you're left with a rather empty shell of a gimmick that's shimmering and glossy but ultimately substance-challenged. (partialdiff)
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