The Marriage Ref: An Unholy Union

I'm the first to admit that I have a pretty sweet gig. I get to watch TV for a living, and sometimes I even get to mingle with its stars while drinking free beer. But sometimes the job means sitting through horrible television. And last night's debut of The Marriage Ref may be the worst television I've seen in awhile.

Listen, we all knew it was going to be bad. Anyone who saw the promos NBC threw at us during its Winter Olympics coverage and thought, "This is going to be great!" can probably also be entertained for a weekend by a cat toy.

The premise of the show is to have celebrities give marriage advice to couples with issues (in the premiere, these "issues" included a taxidermied pet and a stripper pole in the living room), but in the end, it's really just celebrities trying to be funny and laughing a little too hard at their jokes. The first episode featured Alec Baldwin and Kelly Ripa sitting alongside mainstay (and show creator) Jerry Seinfeld. And while they briefly had their moments, it all felt way too forced.

In the middle of everything is host Tom Papa, who brings all the charisma of an America's Funniest Home Videos emcee. I'm not blaming him; he's just a pawn in NBC's evil plan to kill network television and make us all want to off ourselves.

But if we can't blame Papa, then we have to blame Jerry Seinfeld, as the show is his brainchild. Once the funniest man in America, Seinfeld somehow Jedi-mind-tricked the execs at NBC into greenlighting this show (presumably because he is, after all, Jerry Seinfeld). It was a greenlight that no one was brave enough to shut down, because of the trickle-down ass-kissing under which the network operates.

The result is a pathetic half-hour that's edited to hell, results in meaningless resolutions, features the worst animated intro of all-time, and is just plain uncomfortable to watch. What is the point of the whole thing? More than 14 million people tuned in for the premiere thanks to an Olympics lead-in, but this show won't last into April.

I've wasted too much time writing about this atrocity already, and you've wasted too much time reading about it. Let's move on. Next up on NBC's list of disasters: Lisa Kudrow's celebrity-genealogy show Who Do You Think You Are?

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