These friends, who have known each other since grammar school, not only reflect upon where they’ve been, but also where they’re going. Their quandaries would elucidate some entertainment a la “That ’70s Show,” if the writing showed any interest in them. In the four episodes provided to press, Edward Burns’ six-episode hangout series “Bridge and Tunnel” is a nostalgic period piece that offers insignificant storylines to mark its meandering journey down memory lane.
The show’s main focus of Jimmy and Jill’s relationship troubles rushes into view in the premiere’s opening scene—the pair passionately crashing into a bathroom for a very quick quickie. The couple broke up last year because of their divergent career paths: Jimmy is awaiting a six-month photography gig with National Geographic while Jill works as a designer’s assistant, in an office that lampoons her Long Islander accent by calling her “bridge and tunnel” (Burns never defines the meaning behind the insult). While their friends and parents believe their relationship is doomed to fail, neither Jimmy nor Jill are sure whether either can live with or without the other.
Burns unfurls Stacey and Mikey’s relationship to an equally frustrating measure. Mikey, stuck between pursuing a lackluster accounting career and this true passion for the arts, entangles himself with a taken Stacey. They share very few conversations, so how they came to be in a long-term fling makes zero sense considering their polar opposite temperaments. Both 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 spares to this four wheeler, are ill-defined as well.
Burns wants to transport audiences back to the 1980s, but his series reeks of cosplay. The set decoration sees bedroom walls plastered over by posters—from “Rocky” to “Styx”—and in the case of Jimmy, his collage of National Geographic covers. Needle drops from Minnie Ripperton, Anne Murray, David Bowie, etc. color the nostalgic fest. Feathered hair, flared jeans, and muscle cars also garnish the set. But nothing in “Bridge and Tunnel” feels lived-in, mostly because we’re missing the small details. Tammy, for instance, waitresses at a diner, but Burns doesn’t provide the establishment’s name. There’s a nondescript body of water the friends hang by with their cars, but neither the name or its importance to them is recalled. The only haunt Burns shows any attachment to is their neighborhood bar, Larry’s Pub. Yet even here, we don’t see the bartender, their favorite spot at the bar, or even their favorite table—the features that say “I was raised here, and I’ll always remember being here.”