Cue The Laugh Track: The Marriage Ref Is In The House

It's hard to follow dancing maple leaves and choreographed hockey brawls and, um, Nickelback. This was The Marriage Ref unenviable job last night. Luckily, anyone who enjoyed the Vancouver Follies was probably all primed for Seinfeld's return to the small-screen.

For those of you unfamiliar with the premise, NBC's new show consists of a panel of amusing celebs - last night it was Seinfeld, Kelly Ripa and, inexplicably, Alec Baldwin - adjudicating in humorous, sitcom-esque marital disputes. The show has a retro-feel, clearly hearkening back to old-school programming like What's My Line, which featured professional wits bantering amongst themselves while real people got to cameo. And the dynamic was just as old-fashioned: at least in the two "disputes" we saw last night, amusingly staged for the camera, it was the old dopey-husband, long-suffering wife formula, as seen on such quality programs as Life with Jim, Grounded for Life, My Wife and Kids and, of course, Everybody Loves Raymond. In other words, it's pretty much the opposite of the show about nothing, and so is considerably emptier.



The first pair of combatants, Kevin and Danielle, are divided over his dead dog: he wants it stuffed, mounted, and displayed. Hilarity ensues. One bonus: both Baldwin and Seinfeld, sons of Long Island, slipped unconsciously into saying "dawg."


Cut to Georgia, where Greg wants a stripper pole in their bedroom. Wife Dianah doesn't. Hilarity ensues. In both cases, by the way, the celebs ruled in the wife's favor. As of yet, however, we have been spared wise-cracking kids or goofy neighbors. Stay tuned! Or not.