Let’s Remember Leap of Faith

Let’s Remember is an opportunity for those who watched relatively recent short-lived TV shows, as well as those who didn’t, to share their thoughts and memories, to help ensure that these shows aren’t forgotten. This month’s column examines Leap of Faith (NBC, 2002).

The Basics

Title: Leap of Faith
Network: NBC
Cast: Sarah Paulson as Faith Wardwell, Lisa Edelstein as Patty, Ken Marino as Andy, Brad Rowe as Dan Murphy, Regina King as as Cynthia, and Jill Clayburgh as Cricket Wardwell
Air dates: February 28th, 2002 – April 4th, 2002
Time slot: Thursdays at 8:30PM ET
Episodes: 6

Official Synopsis

From NBC’s website (via the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine):

From Jenny Bicks, Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winning writer and producer of “Sex and the City,” comes this new half-hour single-camera comedy about the relationships between a close circle of friends in their 30s. At the center is Faith Wardwell (Sarah Paulson, “Jack and Jill,” “What Women Want”), a spirited young woman who calls off her engagement to a “good on paper” guy and takes a leap of faith back into the single life to discover what it’s like when you stop doing what you should do, and start doing what makes you happy.

After a fling with an attractive actor (Brad Rowe, “Wasteland”) prompts her to cancel her nuptials, Faith finds herself back in the company of her outspoken circle of friends who provide varied perspectives on life. There’s Patty (Lisa Edelstein, “Felicity,” NBC’s “The West Wing”), Faith’s free-spirited single friend and co-worker who’s always looking for Mr. Right Now; Cynthia (Regina King, “Jerry Maguire”), Faith’s no-nonsense married neighbor who likes to speak her mind on all issues, relevant to her or not; and Andy (Ken Marino, “Men Behaving Badly”), Faith’s fun-loving best friend from college who works as a reporter at Rolling Stone.

Faith also gets advice from her eccentric socialite mother, Cricket (Oscar nominated actress Jill Clayburgh, “An Unmarried Woman”), while her advertising executive boss, Lucas (Tim Meadows, NBC’s “Saturday Night Live”), is constantly trying to keep Faith’s mind on her job.

“Leap of Faith” is created and executive produced by Jenny Bicks and is an NBC Studios production.

Program Notes

Leap of Faith was NBC’s second attempt to fill the post-Friends time slot during the 2001-2002 season. The network’s first effort, Inside Schwartz starring Breckin Meyer, ran for 9 episodes from September 2001 to January 2002. Ratings were good but not good enough, so NBC yanked it. Leap of Faith performed better but NBC still wasn’t happy. Incredibly, both shows ended the season in the Top 15: Leap of Faith ranked 12th and Inside Scwhartz ranked 15th.

-NBC replaced Leap of Faith with repeats of Friends. The repeats ranked 8th for the season.

-Curiously, I can’t find any source that includes last names for most of the characters.

TV Guide’s Take

As a mid-season replacement, Leap of Faith wasn’t featured in a TV Guide Fall Preview issue.

Reviews

Variety – Phil Gallo (2/24/2002)
The Los Angeles Times – Howard Rosenberg (2/25/2002)
The New York Times – Julie Salamon (2/28/2002)
Entertainment Weekly – Ken Tucker (3/2/2002)
People – Terry Kelleher (3/4/2002)

Opening Credits

Unavailable.

My Thoughts

I have no memory of watching Leap of Faith back in 2002. Nor can I now remember why I decided to tape the premiere episode. I held onto the VHS tape and dug it out while working on this column. Just a few minutes into the episode it became obvious why Leap of Faith failed.

Still from the opening credits for Leap of Faith.

Leap of Faith Title Card
Copyright 2002 NBC Studios, Inc.

All of the humor (or attempted humor) is about sex. The characters are obsessed with having or talking about or talking about having or talking about why they’re not having sex. Maybe this was considered edgy for network television 15 years ago. Or maybe not. Either way, 22 minutes of fast-paced banter about slutty single girl skirts, libidos, and sex hair is just too much.

Many critics compared Leap of Faith to HBO’s Sex and the City. Some even called it an outright knockoff. I’ve never seen an episode of Sex and the City so I can’t say how well Leap of Faith imitated it. The big difference? One of the four sex-obsessed friends on Leap of Faith is a man.

Clearly, whatever it is that worked for an edgy comedy on HBO Sex and the City didn’t work for NBC.

Still from the premiere of Leap of Faith.

Sarah Paulson as Faith and Lisa Edelstein as Patty
Copyright 2002 NBC Studios, Inc.

Had Leap of Faith been successful, it’s likely Lisa Edelstein wouldn’t have been available in 2004 to join the cast of FOX’s House.

Where to Watch

Nowhere. The show isn’t out on DVD nor is it streaming anywhere. Quite a few clips can be found YouTube if you’re really interested.


Hit the comments with your thoughts and memories to ensure that Leap of Faith isn’t forgotten forever.


5 Comments

  • Jon says:

    I don’t remember ever seeing or hearing about this show before, but since I’ve never seen or been interested in SEX IN THE CITY, I think I would’ve turned this off after 5 minutes or less. Rachel from FRIENDS and Susan from SUDDENLY SUSAN were enough for me of women who ditch their fiancees at the altar. (Rachel was always my least favorite FRIENDS character, partly due to this.) At least this woman had enough sense to quit the relationship before it got that far.
    I do remember INSIDE SCHWARTZ though, both for the sports announcers cameos in it and [IIRC] a regular role for Richard Kline, Larry from THREE’S COMPANY.

  • David says:

    As I was reading the synopsis, I thought this show sounded horrible. After I read your thoughts about the episode you recorded, it confirmed my first impression.

  • James Shell says:

    I think we’ve had enough shows about a group of friends in their 20s or 30s and their “relationships” to last until the end of time… but, alas, they are still being churned out.

  • Chad says:

    Episode 1: 14.0/21, 20.8 million viewers
    Episode 2: 12.0/18, 18.7 million viewers
    Episode 3: 10.5/17, 15.2 million viewers
    Episode 4: 10.0/16, 15.2 million viewers
    Episode 5: 9.7/16, 14.5 million viewers
    Episode 6: 9.7/15, 14.6 million viewers

  • Justin Kantor says:

    I don’t agree that the show was horrible. I recently watched all six aired episodes and found the mix of characters to be very interesting. Even if a lot of the subject matter revolved around sex in some way, there were also work and self-esteem issues addressed in both Paulson’s and Edelstein’s characters. What drew me to the series was Regina King, whom I loved on “227” when I was growing up. I wasn’t aware of her being in another sitcom as a regular lead after that. I think her character on here could have developed into a memorable one had the show lasted longer. Overall, I liked the variety of settings and feel of the show.

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