Seinfeld's The Marriage Ref: Yadda Yadda Yadda

I see dead people...all the time...
After seeing the M. Night Shyamalan film, The Sixth Sense, I saw it again the very next week. I was sure the movie had cheated its brilliant conceit somewhere along the way. It hadn't.

Could a movie be this good? Could a filmmaker be this brilliant?

Then I saw M. Night's subsequent movies, Unbreakable, Signs, The Village. One hokey, sophomoric bomb after another.

If those movies had been that bad, could The Sixth Sense have possibly been that good?

Not that there's anything wrong with that...
Jerry Seinfeld's long-running NBC hit, Seinfeld was the bedrock of Must-See-TV in the Go-Go 90's. It redefined the TV sitcom and was the fountainhead of ongoing syndication and DVD franchises.

Jerry Seinfeld has a secure position in the TV Comedy Hall of Fame, right?

Now, I'm starting to wonder...

The first chink in the armor was that shorter-than-intended series of embarrassing Microsoft commercials.

While many viewers expected a clever pushback to the long-running PC/Mac Apple campaign, what they got was rambling stream-of-consciousness, featuring Seinfeld and, surprisingly, an equally funny (or unfunny) Bill Gates.

Then came the Marriage Ref.

Seinfeld produces this curiosity but he isn't really identified as the star of the show.

Tom Papa plays Ryan Seacrest to a judging panel of three celebrities that more-often-than-not includes Seinfeld.

And what are they judging?

Pre-recorded -- most definitely scripted/directed -- vignettes of couples playful sparring over one insipid, trivial thing or another.

Then the panel judges spout off what sounds like scripted ad-libs that generate surreal and wholly unbelievable laugh-track-enhanced studio audience guffaws.

Note to Marriage Ref producers:
Compare the quality of your celebrity quips with those of NBC's vintage Hollywood Squares.

How could NBC replace one night of the disaster that was the Jay Leno Show with a program that accomplishes the seemingly impossible feat of being less funny and less clever?

How indeed.

Here's what the critics are saying about The Marriage Ref:

NPR / Linda Holmes: "terrible" ... "heinous"
(Interesting since The Marriage Ref does have the vibe of a witless version of NPR's "Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me!")

Time Magazine / James Poniewozik: "the most God-awful mishmash of a comedy-variety show to lead into local news on NBC since immediately before the Olympics." / Alan Sepinwall: "ugly, unfunny, patronizing mess."

Maybe the Must-See-TV Seinfeld show just wasn't as funny as I thought it was...