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Television Review

No good answers for ‘100 Questions’

From left: David Walton, Sophie Winkleman, Collette Wolfe, and Smith Cho are single New Yorkers in “100 Questions.’’ From left: David Walton, Sophie Winkleman, Collette Wolfe, and Smith Cho are single New Yorkers in “100 Questions.’’ (Justin Lubin/NBC)
By Matthew Gilbert
Globe Staff / May 27, 2010

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Sometimes, you want to be surprised by a TV show. You want the nasty traitor to win, you want the guy to get the guy, you want the single New Yorkers to not be so thoroughly irritating. You want the sitcom that NBC is dumping in the no-man’s land between May sweeps and the summer to be a cool little gem. You want to introduce that unknown series to other people, to surprise them.

Well people in hell want ice water, but, alas, they don’t often get it. “100 Questions,’’ which premieres tonight at 8:30 on Channel 7, is completely lacking in surprise. It’s a 100 percent predictable sitcom about singles who machine-gun one-liners at one another in the bars and bedrooms of Manhattan. Back in the 1990s, we saw an army of these third-rate “Friends’’ clones, before they were supplanted by the more ambitious likes of “30 Rock, “Arrested Development,’’ and “The Office.’’ But here’s “100 Questions,’’ as awkward as a Walkman at an Apple convention.

The title refers to the dating-service interview our heroine, Charlotte (Sophie Winkleman), is undergoing. In each episode, she will respond to one question — tonight, for example, she explains why she is joining a dating service. Her answer has something to do with the wacky times that ensued after an ex-boyfriend proposed to her in front of a filled baseball stadium — whatever. The plot is just an excuse for Charlotte and her friends, two women and two men, to deliver flat stand-up bits about dating.

Maybe after a few episodes, if the show lasts that long, the actors will find their characters and the ensemble will find a rhythm. In the premiere, though, the actors are just stereotypes plunked down in the same large apartment together. They all seem to be going through the motions of the 1990s sitcom formula, particularly when it looks like one of the guys, the womanizing Wayne (David Walton), just may have feelings for Charlotte. Winkleman has a British accent, so I guess that’s somewhat distinctive. Cool.

Oh, I forgot to mention: There is a subplot. It’s the tragic story of a trigger-happy laugh track that’s riding in hot pursuit of our ears.

Matthew Gilbert can be reached at gilbert@globe.com.

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100 QUESTIONS Starring: Sophie Winkleman, Christopher Moynihan, Collette Wolfe, Smith Cho, David Walton

On: NBC, Channel 7

Time: Tonight, 8:30-9