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Life….and Stuff

There is a cute show hiding around somewhere inside CBS' "Life ... and Stuff," but it's difficult to tell because everything is drowned out by a human smoke alarm named Rick Reynolds. He whines, he gripes, he ruminates, but mostly he irritates. After 23 minutes, the urge to smother him is overpowering. Burying this sitcom ode to self-absorption on six Friday nights over the summer sounds about right.

With:
Rick Reynolds, Pam Dawber, Fred Applegate, Tanner Lee Prairie, Kevin Keckeisen, David Bowe, Anita Barone, Andrea Martin.

Mind you, there are those who swear that Reynolds is an extremely funny standup comedian. But his shtick as the pied piper of personal trauma and neuroses plays without the requisite charisma, or laughs, once the act hits primetime. He’s like Fran Drescher after nasal surgery.

Part of the problem appears to be Reynolds’ level of chemistry with co-star Pam Dawber. There simply isn’t any. It’s like pairing Charles Nelson Reilly with Pamela Anderson. Actually, on second thought, that might be kinda fun.

“Life … and Stuff” is based on Reynolds’ one-man show “All Grown Up and No Place to Go,” in which he muses on what it’s like to be a balding, married, career-driven, fortysomething father. The sitcom takes this promising premise and turns it trite.

Reynolds portrays Rick Boswell, an ad industry exec. Dawber is his understanding but easily irked wife, Ronnie. They have two little boys and a unique approach to conversation. He rants, she belittles. Once his wife starts tuning him out after 10 years of marriage, Rick turns to fast food drive-through speakers, vegetation, even his co-workers, to share observations about his abysmal life.

In the opener — which has a few clever lines but few believable moments — Rick realizes that the thrill has gone out of his marriage. Like a poor man’s “Dream On,” seg shows his daydreaming about a “Leave It to Beaver” existence, with a roast in the oven and an adoring, unquestioning wife cooking it.

Then reality hits.

“Honey,” she tells him, “I’m not a 7-Eleven. You can’t just zip in, get what you want and zip out.” “Not even a Slurpee?” he asks.

Yes, it’s marriage 1990s style. They haven’t had sex in over a month, and when they do, he marks it on the calendar with an “HS” (for “Had Sex”) and drinks a Yoo-Hoo in celebration.

No, it’s not particularly funny. But “Life … and Stuff” is plenty annoying. It grows even more so in the second episode, when we get force-fed a bigger dose of Rick’s slacker brother, Andy (David Bowe), who lives in a trailer out back.

Reynolds, clearly enamored of his own voice, is never silent in “Life … and Stuff” (which he also co-executive produces). The man will even speak to inanimate objects. In the case of this show, he promises to be yakking at viewers who aren’t there.

Life....and Stuff

Fri. (6), 8:30-9 p.m., CBS

Production: Taped in Culver City by Somers/Teitelbaum/David and Perrgood Prods. in association with TriStar Television. Executive producers, Mark Teitelbaum, Lee Aronsohn, Bill Bell Jr., Alan Kirschenbaum, Andy Cadiff; creators, Rick Reynolds, Aronsohn; co-executive producers, Reynolds, Jordan Moffet; producers, Pam Dawber, Alan David, Alan Somers, Jason Shubb; director, Cadiff; writer, Aronsohn

Crew: camera, Donald A. Morgan; editor, Michael Weitzman; sound, J. Mark King; music, Rick Marotta; casting, Marc Hirschfeld.

Cast: Rick Reynolds, Pam Dawber, Fred Applegate, Tanner Lee Prairie, Kevin Keckeisen, David Bowe, Anita Barone, Andrea Martin.

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