Pride & Joy

Amy Sherman (Julie Warner) and Carol Green (Caroline Rhea) are best friends who work together. They and their husbands, Greg (Craig Bierko) and Nathan (Jeremy Piven), respectively, live across the hall from one another in a New York apartment. Nathan is unemployed and Greg is a freelance magazine writer; both couples are parents of infant children.

Amy Sherman (Julie Warner) and Carol Green (Caroline Rhea) are best friends who work together. They and their husbands, Greg (Craig Bierko) and Nathan (Jeremy Piven), respectively, live across the hall from one another in a New York apartment. Nathan is unemployed and Greg is a freelance magazine writer; both couples are parents of infant children.

Filmed in Los Angeles by Reserve Room Prods. and Touchstone Television. Executive producer-writer, Marc Lawrence; supervising producers, Elias Davis, David Pollock; producers, Caryn Lucas, Robert Borden, Arleen Sorkin, Paul Slansky, Ana Krewson. Director, Tommy Schlamme; camera, Mike Berlin; editor, Tony Porter; production designer, Bill Brzeski; sound, Edward L. Moskowitz; music, Bennett Salvay, Jesse Frederick. #Cast: Julie Warner, Jeremy Piven, Craig Bierko, Caroline Rhea, Natasha Pavlovic, Tom Virtue, Ping Wu, Richard Chaim. What if men resembling watered-down versions of those played by Paul Reiser and Jason Alexander in, respectively, “Mad About You” and “Seinfeld,” were married house-husbands? Add some jokes so old they’d embarrass Milton Berle, and you’d have a show you could call “The Daddies.”

Big conflicts in premiere episode are whether Amy will return to work or stay home to care for the kid, and whether Greg and Amy will resume a sex life that’s been more or less inactive since she had the baby.

Answers: Yes, she’ll go back to work — husbands caring for kids are funnier than wives doing the same thing; and it had better, or the Shermans will be arguing all the time — and it’s the Greens who are the wacky arguing neighbors (she’s tall and a blonde; he’s short and dark).

Jokes in first episode, scripted by creator Marc Lawrence, involve a spit take when someone mistakenly drinks mother’s milk from the fridge, and the old “I want to (eat) somewhere I’ve never been before”/”Why don’t you try the kitchen?” groaner.

Token intellectual references are a nod to “A Cry in the Dark,” the 1988 Meryl Streep film that many of Streep’s relatives probably missed, let alone the American sitcom aud; and an ostensibly comic allusion to high notes in Italian (evidently as opposed to German, or French) opera.

Further evidence of the show’s “Mad About You”/”Seinfeld” ancestry pops up in the form of Ping Wu, who delivers Chinese food to the Shermans as well as the Seinfeld crowd; maybe Jerry told Piven about the restaurant when the latter played “George” in the pilot “show about nothing” last season.

Warner and Rhea bear watching; they’re attractive personalities and less derivative than their spouses (Bierko has an arm-waving scene toward the end of the show that’s pure Reiser).

The other recurring player is Natasha Pavlovic as Katia, who’s a nanny or something.

Tommy Schlamme’s direction is consistent with the material; other tech credits are OK.

Pride & Joy

(Tues. (21), 9-9:30 p.m., NBC)

Production: Or, as NBC has named its new series, "Pride & Joy." While the sitcom may find a following, fans of the dark and relatively intelligent "John Larroquette Show" (which it replaces) will have to find something else to do at 9:30 on Tuesday nights.

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