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The spat patrol


The Gazette's rundown on TV shows

Dean Robbins June 22nd, 2011

The Marriage Ref
Sunday, 9 p.m. (NBC)

Jerry Seinfeld’s “The Marriage Ref” is an original game-show idea, beautifully executed. A panel of funny judges insert themselves into a marital spat, offering opinions on which spouse is right. The winner in each episode gets $25,000, plus a billboard proclaiming that he or she “was right.”

The scenario offers a pretext for the comedians to spritz.

And what’s more fun that watching Seinfeld and his buddies spritz, particularly on the ripe topic of other people’s relationships? The season premiere (Sunday, 9 p.m., NBC) features judges Seinfeld, Ricky Gervais and Julianne Moore, who tease the couples and each other mercilessly. To a wife who complains that her husband has neglected her in favor of growing giant pumpkins in their backyard, Gervais says, “If you want to get his attention, just get fat and sit in the garden.”

I think “The Marriage Ref” is wonderful, although I do cop to personal bias. For a critic, the thought of a billboard proclaiming “you were right” is the wish-fulfillment fantasy of a lifetime.

Suits
Thursday, 9 p.m. (USA)

Harvey (Gabriel Macht), an attorney with a smirk and oil-slick hair, is a legal genius. We know that because other characters keep saying so. Mike (Patrick J. Adams) is a con artist and drug dealer who’s really a one-of-a-kind genius himself — at least, that’s what everybody tells us. These two so-called geniuses come together when Mike accidentally stumbles into Harvey’s cutthroat corporate law office while on the run from drug dealers. Harvey hires him, despite his lack of legal training.

That doesn’t really seem like something a legal genius would do, does it?

But, OK, I’d be willing to suspend disbelief if “Suits” were at least an enjoyable fairy tale. But it’s an off-putting fairy tale, with obnoxious characters and a nasty tone. The script is loaded with crude macho dialogue, as when Harvey tells an opponent: “I’d say the ball’s in your court. But the truth is, your balls are in my fist.”

Maybe ruthless lawyers would enjoy seeing these people cut each other to pieces, but I doubt there are enough of them in the viewing audience to make “Suits” a hit.

Rookie Blue
Thursday, 9 p.m. (ABC)

Now in its second season, “Rookie Blue” is enjoyable kitsch about five rookie cops. Although it’s supposed to be a serious drama, the cops all look like models, with the women parading around in midriff-baring

halter tops and the guys going shirtless. The soundtrack is overwrought, and the perps are laughable. Ever heard of a philosophy teaching assistant with horn-rim glasses and a lust for murder?

Missy Peregrym almost single-handedly saves the series, playing her role with more intensity than it deserves. Here’s hoping someone can get her out of that halter top and into a more worthy vehicle.

Leverage
Sunday, 8 p.m. (TNT)

The band of reformed thieves, con artists and hackers return to pull off “Mission: Impossible”-style jobs for clients in need. In the season premiere, they agree to join a mountain-climbing expedition to recover evidence from a businessman who disappeared on the peaks. According to his wife, the businessman had uncovered shenanigans at his company just before his mysterious death. The same evil forces that did him in might also target Nate (Timothy Hutton) and the crew. Indeed, the mission is like “a danger cupcake with murder icing,” says computer expert Alec (Aldis Hodge).

The show is as enjoyable as ever, thanks to the fine cast. Our operatives not only beat impossible odds, but toss off effortless wisecracks.This is one murder cupcake I’d suggest you eat.

HGTV’d
Monday, 8 p.m. (HGTV)

HGTV sends a big, red 18-wheeler truck around the country to surprise the network’s biggest fans with spectacular home makeovers. Each week, an army of fixer-uppers gets to work, presided over by one of HGTV’s star designers.

It will be fun to watch this show all summer from my dark, cramped, outdated living room. (Hint, hint.)

 
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