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TV Reviews: Just who thought 'The Mind of the Married Man' would be funny?

Tuesday, September 11, 2001

By Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV Editor

"The Mind of the Married Man" is not a pleasant place to be, at least not the minds of the married men in HBO's new sexcom.

Creator/writer/star Mike Binder conveniently packages all guys into three stereotypical characters.

Doug (Taylor Nichols) is the nice guy, the monogamous guy, so of course he's teased for these ridiculously outdated notions. Jake Berman (Jake Weber) is the suave adulterer who cheats on his wife at will and justifies it as a way to keep his marriage together while feeding his selfish desires.

 
 
"The Mind of the Married Man"

When: 10 tonight on HBO.

Starring: Mike Binder, Sonya Walger, Jake Weber, Taylor Nichols.

   
 

Then there's Binder's character, Micky Barnes, who's caught between the angel and the devil. He's tempted by his young new assistant, Missy (Ivana Milicevic), but too guilt-ridden to cheat on his sassy British wife, Donna (Sonya Walger).

The show's coarse humor is really only funny when Donna makes fun of Micky's whiny demands, particularly in a scene where she suggests sex at the dinner table as their maid nervously darts back and forth in the kitchen.

Micky is immature. He gets home from work to find his wife on the phone. She asks him to change their son's diaper. He protests.

"I can't change a diaper the moment I walk in the door," he says. "It's physically impossible."

No, it's not.

Not only does "Mind of the Married Man" mock anyone who is mature about relationships (it posits that such people are simply in denial, contentment is impossible), it puts Micky in the same moronic situations of his own making two episodes in a row.

In tonight's premiere, he fires Missy because he's attracted to her and keeps fantasizing about sleeping with her. Then he has to rehire her.

In next week's show, Micky dislikes his wife's coldness to Missy and suggests they go to lunch. When his wife takes him up on the idea, Micky freaks and has to undo what he's done.

It's like "Three's Company" with liberal use of the F-word.

And did I mention all these nebbish guys have really hot wives? Talk about a fantasy.

It gets more bizarre. All three men work at a Chicago newspaper, and people often have sex in the newspaper's offices and elevators. That never happens at the Post-Gazette. Maybe it's time to move to Chicago.

"Curb Your Enthusiasm," HBO

Larry David's "Curb Your Enthusiasm" returns for its second season just as neurotic and self-effacing as ever. David, the co-creator of "Seinfeld," continues to skewer his own eccentricities and bad behavior along with life's weird annoyances.

 
 
"Curb Your Enthusiasm"

When: 10:30 tonight on HBO.

Starring: Larry David, Cheryl Hines, Jeff Garlin.

   
 

Tonight David and his wife, Cheryl (Cheryl Hines), purchase a home in the Los Angeles area. Larry's biggest concern? He thinks the guy selling the house is lying when he claims to be wearing a 100 percent cashmere sweater.

Fans of "Seinfeld" will most appreciate a scene with Jason Alexander (who appears as himself). Alexander complains about the curse of playing George Costanza, calling George an idiot and a schmuck.

"I don't see him as a yutz, schmuck, idiot, I just see him as funny," David says.

He's understandably defensive because the George character was based on Larry David.

"Curb Your Enthusiasm" remains an acquired taste, one that it took me several episodes to appreciate last season. Now I enjoy its "Seinfeldian" rhythms and structure (disparate plots come together in the end) and find myself growing more enthusiastic for future episodes.

After tonight's premieres, these episodes of "Mind of the Married Man" and "Curb Your Enthusiasm" will be rebroadcast Sunday at 10 and 10:30 p.m. following "Band of Brothers." New episodes will air in those time slots beginning Sept. 23.

"Love Cruise: The Maiden Voyage" (9 p.m. Tuesday, Fox)

As if there weren't enough reality shows already, Fox launches yet another with "Love Cruise," a sometimes humiliating program from the producers of "The Real World."

Eight men and eight women sail the high seas in hopes of finding love and winning $200,000 and "a glamorous trip around the world."

 
 
"Love Cruise"

When: 9 tonight on Fox.

Hosted by: Justin Gunn.

   
 

Some contestants take seriously the opportunity to find a mate. For others it's just a chance for a cheap hookup while competing for money. That combination will lead only to hurt feelings.

To wring further tears, contestants must submit to being "picked" or left out in some competitions for companionship. They also ask one another hurtful questions. At the end of each episode, the guys pick a woman to toss overboard and the women select a man to walk the plank for banishment on "loser island."

In the early going, insecure Lisa is the most sympathetic character, along with Michael, an attorney who once weighed 250 pounds before getting himself in shape. Toni, initially a breast-implanted show off, also displays some signs of humanity later in the episode.

But Anthony, a tattooed faux sensitive guy who spouts really, really bad poetry and takes himself way too seriously, is quickly unmasked for the poseur that he is.

"Love Cruise" isn't as objectionable as "Temptation Island," but it also uses the often fragile emotions of real people for sheer entertainment value. It's got voyeuristic appeal, but at what cost to the contestants' self-esteem?

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