Seinfeld's <em>Marriage Ref</em>: Nada Nada Nada

Jerry Seinfeld's wretched reality/game show hybridmight actually have left viewers pitying NBC. The network survived primetime Leno for this?
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As if the bobbing beaver balloons of the Olympics closing ceremony weren't bad enough, Jerry Seinfeld's wretched reality/game show hybrid The Marriage Ref might actually have left viewers pitying NBC. The network survived primetime Leno for this?

The premise: Three celebrity panelists -- in this case, Seinfeld himself, plus that obvious marriage expert Alec Baldwin, and morning show co-host Kelly Ripa -- watch a wacky marital dispute on tape, cracking wise and choosing sides. The final verdict is rendered by the show "ref," the comic and Seinfeld pal Tom Papa. Stuff your beloved dead doggie Fonzi and give him a place of honor in the house? Yes, says husband. No, says wife.

Seinfeld, Ripa and Baldwin couldn't have been more pleased with themselves for making the network-TV equivalent of Staten Island hair jokes.

"If you're going to stuff your dog, stuff it in a useful or attractive position," Baldwin quipped as Ripa threw her head back and roared and Jerry shot a look that said, "Psycho-dads say the darnndest things!"

At the end of the show, a sort of honorary door prize is awarded to the husband or wife for "best shot." This week's winner: "The day that Fonzi died was pretty much the best day of my life."

Laughing yet? Neither was I, though the ripostes had the infomercial-ready audience in stitches. Seinfeld scrunched his nose and slapped the table, Baldwin shook his head as if he could handle no more hilarity. I felt like I'd just gold-medaled in grump.

How could a man as funny as Seinfeld produce such a remarkably unfunny show? With a little help from his friends, apparently. He recently told the New York Times that he hashed out some ideas for the show with buddy Marc Consuelos, Ripa's husband and sometime actor. Must be ages since Jerry wandered New York with Larry David.

Ideas, the comic told the Times, are "terrible obligations," and he'd rather spend time with his kids. No crime there. But no joke either.

Jerry Seinfeld already gave us the greatest sitcom in TV history. He owes us absolutely nothing, and delivers it in spades with The Marriage Ref.

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