These friends, who have known each other since high school, are thinking not only about where they’ve been, but also where they’re going. Their dilemmas would elucidate some entertainment on the “That ’70s Show” if the writing showed any interest in them. In the four episodes provided to the press, Edward Burns’ six-part “Bridge and Tunnel” series is a nostalgic period piece that offers insignificant storylines to mark its meandering journey into the past.
The main focus of the series on Jimmy and Jill’s relationship issues appears in the opening scene of the premiere: the couple passionately crash into a bathroom for a really quick quickie. The couple broke up last year over their divergent career paths: Jimmy is expecting a six-month photography gig with National Geographic while Jill works as a designer assistant, in an office that disturbs her Long Islander accent by calling it “bridge and tunnel” (Burns never defines the meaning behind the insult). While their friends and relatives believe their relationship is doomed, neither Jimmy nor Jill know whether one or the other can live with or without the other.
Burns unfolds the relationship between Stacey and Mikey to an equally frustrating extent. Mikey, caught between a lackluster accounting career and this true passion for the arts, gets tangled up with a stuck Stacey. They share very few conversations, so how they arrived at a long-term affair makes no sense given their opposing temperaments. The two couples occupy a frustrating middle ground between seriousness and no strings attached, but Burns provides few compelling reasons why we should care. Pangs and Tammy, the two spare parts for this four-wheeler, are also ill-defined.
Burns wants to bring audiences back to the 1980s, but his series smacks of cosplay. The decor decor sees the bedroom walls covered with posters – from “Rocky” to “Styx” – and in Jimmy’s case, his collage of National Geographic blankets. Needle Drops from Minnie Ripperton, Anne Murray, David Bowie, etc. color the nostalgic festival. Feathered hair, flared jeans, and muscular cars also garnish the ensemble. But nothing in “Bridge and Tunnel” seems lived, mainly because we miss the little details. Tammy, for example, waitresses in a restaurant, but Burns does not give the name of the establishment. There is an indescribable body of water where friends hang out with their cars, but neither the name nor its importance to them is remembered. The only hangout Burns shows an attachment to is their neighborhood bar, Larry’s Pub. Yet even here we don’t see the bartender, their favorite place at the bar, or even their favorite table – the characteristics that say “I grew up here, and I will always remember being here.”