Holy crap. I take it all back about those closing ceremonies. I just saw Sunday night’s sneak peak at The Marriage Ref. It’s a thousand times more cringe inducing.
Although, to be fair, it is funnier.
As I watched I couldn’t help but think of Jackie Gleason’s infamous network bomberino, You’re In The Picture. That 1961 stinker had The Great One (not Gretzky, Gleason) hosting a game show featuring celebrities, much like Jerry Seinfeld’s The Marriage Ref.
You’re in the Picture aired Jan. 20, 1961–the evening of the inauguration of president John F. Kennedy. Apparently celebrities had to stick their heads through holes in famous paintings or photos. While Gleason gave clues, they had to guess what the picture was about.
It was so bad, it aired only once. The next week, Gleason came back on CBS at the same hour to apologise.
Seinfeld should do the same for The Marriage Ref. The premise finds real life couples having an argument. A panel of celebrities–Sunday night it was Alec Baldwin, Seinfeld and Kelly Ripa, with Madonna, Tina Fey, Eva Longoria, Larry David, Martin Short and Sarah Silverman in future episodes–review the fight and offer tips and suggestions. Sportscaster Marv Albert recaps the line of the night. Host Tom Papa makes the final call and a winner in the domestic dispute is declared.
Seinfeld tried hard to sell it at press tour, suggesting he was going for the kind of informal, celebrity banter you used to find when guests would stick around further down the couch on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show. While there’s some of that, you just can’t get around the fact that the spirit and idea of this is just completely off-putting.
It didn’t help Sunday night that one couple was fighting over keeping a dead dog that the owner had stuffed. “You crossed the line into Wes Cravenville,” said Papa. The next couple were fighting over putting a stripper pole in their bedroom.
The celebs kinda come off as smug dickheads, laughing at ordinary couples, not with them. Seinfeld just looks like he’s slumming. The series returns in its regular timeslot Thursday night at 10 p.m. on NBC and Citytv.

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