Seinfeld returns to series TV, sort of, as creator of NBC’s
little Olympic coverage with your Marriage Ref commercials?), vagueness cloaks the whole highprofile project.
One sure thing: Jerry Seinfeld is the high-profile draw. He’s the driving force whose very name conjures up a certain series that ended a dozen years ago after transforming TV comedy and helping fuel the glory days NBC will never know again. No wonder “Seinfeld,” even after all this time, is the magic word for a new show viewers might otherwise not even have noticed.
Trouble is, Seinfeld will mostly stay out of sight in his primary duties as a co-creator and produc- er. Instead, he has bequeathed the on-camera role — the title role of Marriage Ref — to actor/standup/not-a-householdname Tom Papa.
One other sure thing: Marriage Refwill be unveiled with flourish as a so-called sneak preview Sunday at 10:30 p.m. EST — a half-hour version strategically following the Winter Olympics’ closing ceremony. Finally, for better or worse, Marriage Ref goes public.
After that, starting March 4, it will air for eight Thursdays at 10 p.m.
But for now, random clues must suffice.
The network pitches the show as a humorous, all-in-fun hour where “disputes between real-life couples are revealed, examined and ultimately judged.”
In front of a studio audience, a rotating panel of celebrity “experts” will screen prerecorded clips of those real-life couples having reallife spats: Should the wife let her husband park his Harley in the living room? When the family dog dies, should or shouldn’t it be stuffed and displayed?
Then, after pondering the evidence and hearing panellists’ arguments, Papa will make his call in favour of either the husband or the wife.
Panellists announced thus far will include Alec Baldwin, Kelly Ripa, Tina Fey, Eva Longoria, Charles Barkley, Larry David, Madonna and Seinfeld (who appears on the sneak preview).
That’s Marriage Ref. Sounds simple enough. Or not. As Seinfeld articulated (or tried to) at a Los Angeles press gathering last month, “There’s no way here today that we are going to be ... able to explain to you exactly what the show is. ... I don’t even think we could nail down the type of show it is.”