‘Pairings’ Doesn’t Quite Heat Things Up

/ Jul 23, 2013



If we were grading on a curve for adventurous, experimental web shows, “Pairings The Series” would definitely get a bump of a few clicks for combining food with modern romance.  However, on its own merits, this tale of an LA food maven in search of love is an ambitious project in need of an experienced expediter (get the metaphor?) to smooth out the rough edges, allowing the ingredients to meld together for tastier web fare (that’s the last of the food analogies — I promise).

“Pairings” is a six-episode dramedy with far too many concurrent story threads. Alan is a food centric, klutzy, D&D nerd who has trouble connecting with women to form lasting relationships. At the same time, Alan and his two siblings are trying to cope with the loss of their father, a first-gen food guy whose culinary skills provided a familial bond that has only resurfaced after his passing. Jammed into the plot line is the brothers’ dream of reviving their father’s beer recipe and bringing it to life as the next New Belgium Brewing Company. There is an ongoing D&D game theme with Alan’s friends, egging him on in the dating challenge. All of this action is stirred into five-minute (or so) webisodes where the first minute is homage to great food artistry and the closing credits rival any George Lucas production.

Jodie Younse and Ed Robinson are the executive producers of “Pairings.” The duo bring legitimate food and acting prowess to the production, both experienced in food as stylists as well as boasting drama degrees from San Francisco State College. Robinson also is a chef, who has catered a number of indie films, and the authenticity of his skills is spot on; only a legit chef could rattle off the multiple uses of celery root as if he were giving the weather report. Where “Pairings” falls short is the pairing (if you will) of these two disciplines, which is tricky business probably done best (and I kid you not) in Disney’s animated “Ratatouille.” For example, I find it difficult to believe that anyone bought Catherine Zeta Jones as a virtuoso food star in “No Reservations.” The acting here is earnest and at times engaging, but, overall, comes off as being inconsistent — the end result of a less-than-stellar script and inexperienced webisode directing. The talented Rick Robinson brings a wealth of award-winning theatrical writing and directing stints to “Pairings.” Despite that experience, the emerging art and science of heading a web-oriented show requires a set of abbreviated storytelling skills suited for short attention spans.

“Pairings” is somewhere in the funding process for season two, so its future is dependent on public contributions, an ambitious and scary business model based on the generosity of fickle overloaded media consumers. In the meantime, Robinson and his team at “Pairings” have joined forces with his friends at “Clutch” for a series of short mashups that blend together the two web shows for some ‘tween-the-seasons fun.

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