REASON TO WATCH: Paul Reiser is back, in a fictionalized sitcom about Paul Reiser's life.
WHEN/WHERE: Thursday at 8:30 p.m. on NBC/4
Ten years ago or so, Reiser starred in a beloved hit sitcom for NBC and (long story short) it ended, and he hasn't done too much of anything on TV since. With the "Mad About You" residuals safely tucked away, he can afford the leisurely life of an ex-TV star, not unlike Larry David on "Curb Your Enthusiasm" (he, in fact, has a cameo tonight) while wondering about domestic life and its many perils and rewards.
Married (on the show) to Claire (Amy Landecker), he has a bunch of eclectic guy pals who are husbands of Claire's friends. They include Habib (Omid Djalili), Fernando (Duane Martin), Jonathan (Ben Shenkman) and Brad (Andrew Daly).
MY SAY This episode has what might be called a "meta moment," when Paul and his old friend Larry meet at a restaurant to talk about Reiser's career options. "You should be doing," says Larry, "a version of 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' because you're so much worse than I am."
Amusing, sure, and a pointed reminder -- just in case one is needed -- that this is a version of "Curb" with Reiser in the lead getting a blessing of sorts from his real-life pal David. Clever (sure), but these two savvy show-biz veterans have forgotten a basic TV rule: Clone all you want, but don't clone a classic.
Comparisons will be made and viewer expectations will be high. As it turns out, "The Paul Reiser Show" is about as close to being funny as a show could be without actually being funny. Comparisons in this instance will be brutal.
BOTTOM LINE Most of the material flatlines even before it begins, while never rising to the level of the HBO series to which it pays homage.