Featuring all the tension and the squabbling and the complete, nonsensical silliness, ABC's Big Day is a ''real-time'' breakdown of a couple's wedding day, half hour by excruciating half hour. Posh, shallow, overblown nuptials are a very short leash to chain a comedy to: In the first three episodes available for review, there are a dozen nasty fights about such ridiculous topics as seating charts and the questionable merits of Caesar salad. We all know people can get goofy over flower arrangements and chocolate drizzle cake, but knowing that and wanting to see it each week are two very different things. Likable characters can get away with random fits of insanity; Big Day has no likable characters. Perhaps for the sake of gender equality, there is no single Bridezilla here — everyone acts like an idiot. The groom (Four Kings' Josh Cooke) is a daffy, oblivious man-boy; the bride (The Practice's Marla Sokoloff) is a rich baby-girl prone to weeping; her mom (Just Shoot Me's Wendie Malick) is an uptight, controlling matron. Malick, with her regal carriage, can occasionally pull off a shimmer of a laugh. But just a shimmer.
It takes a very clever hand to make irritating situations amusing. Both Father of the Bride movies (mostly) managed this because they had amiable — if manic — personalities. Big Day has only a bunch of stereotypical self-centered brats (here comes the bride's randy ex-boyfriend!) darting in and out of rooms, worrying about mojito bars and crepe stations. No one wants to be like those people — and no one should have to watch them.