ABC’s “Cupid” Misses the Mark

In ABC’s new drama Cupid, romantic leads Claire and Trevor are not a match made in heaven — even if that’s literally true in the script.

Trevor Pierce’s real name is Cupid, or so he claims. Played by Bobby Cannavale, (Will & Grace, Ally McBeal, Third Watch) Trevor is convinced he’s the Roman god of love, never mind that he seems to have misplaced his bow and quiver, and finds himself in a mental hospital after being arrested for rearranging the “Happy New Year” light bulbs in Times Square to read “Holly I’m Here” for a love-struck Irish musician named Dave.

Affably charming, hopelessly romantic, and probably delusional, Trevor announces he’s been banned from Mt. Olympus by Zeus, and may only return home after he’s helped 100 couples find their love connections.

Trevor is immediately put under the care of Dr. Claire McCrae, played by out actress Sarah Paulson, (The Spirit, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip) a cautious psychiatrist and relationship expert who dispenses dour dating advice to her therapy group for skittish singles in search of soul mates.

The meeting of Trevor and Claire, and their subsequent bickering over the nature of love while pursuing the same mission — to push the romantically challenged singles towards happy couplehood — sets up the premise for Cupid, the latest offering from Veronica Mars creator, Rob Thomas, which premieres on ABC, Tuesday, March 31 (10pm ET).

This is actually Thomas’ second shot at Cupid – his original version first aired in 1998, starred Jeremy Piven and Paula Marshall and lasted one season.

Is love better the second time around? Not really.

Feisty foils, Trevor and Claire, clash over the best recipe for the one thing everyone hungers for: Lasting love. Trevor, who may or may not really be Cupid, believes it’s all about chemistry, heat and undeniable physical attraction, while Claire advises her clients to look for compatibility, friendship and similar values, because all that other stuff will eventually die, just as sure as she’s standing there, hiding her own broken heart.

In the pilot episode, Trevor tries to help Dave find Holly, an American woman he met once in a Dublin pub. Convinced it was love at first sight, Dave travels to New York without so much as Holly’s last name, in search of his future bride. With the help of Madelyn, a newspaper reporter who just so happens to be in Claire’s therapy group for singles, Trevor and Dave find Holly, an urbane New Yorker who barely remembers meeting her Irish suitor.

Trevor is elated. Not only does he prove to naysayer Claire that love at first sight exists, he only has 99 more couples to match up before he can go home.

Almost immediately, it’s clear scruffy Dave and designer-clad Holly are not meant to be — it’s Dave and Madelyn who share some real compatibility. Maybe Claire is right after all. Trevor seems downright sadden when he realizes a shot at love is more complicated than hitting someone with one of his arrows.

Maybe he’ll have better luck next week, when he tries to connect another pair of singles.