Bobby Cannavale, the versatile Tony- nominated actor much beloved as Will Truman's cop boyfriend on Will & Grace, plays the God of Love on ABC's new romantic comedy-drama Cupid. Stripped of his magic bow, Cupid now called Trevor is assigned to lovelorn Manhattan, where, in order to regain his corner office on Mount Olympus, he has to match 100 perfect twosomes. His nemesis/future soul mate/Scully to his Mulder is Claire, a shrink played by Sarah Paulson, who emerged uninjured from Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and therefore can make anything work.
Maybe not this, though. It's nobody's fault that Cannavale and Paulson so far lack the chemistry a show like this needs. The problem with this version of Cupid (it's actually a remake of a 1998 ABC dramedy) isn't the actors, but its strained Touched by a Love Boat concept, which has the two main characters gluing together a fresh couple every week while inching bickersomely toward their own mutual attraction. The battle-of-opposites premise is presented in yellow highlighter: He's all heart, she's all head; he likes bold gestures, she likes weighed options; he's a free spirit, and she's corseted into a role that television really ought to banish the Professional Woman Who Just Needs a Good...Thawing. Seriously, what kind of psychiatrist warns a flirty patient, ''I'll have to ask you to refrain from that kind of innuendo'' outside of porn? The man behind Cupid, Rob Thomas, also created Veronica Mars, so he knows how to write to, for, and about women. This time, his arrow misses. B–