Scripter Jed Seidel has cloned Will (from NBC’s “Will & Grace”) in the form of romance-deprived Matt (Ken Barnett) and set him adrift within the fast-paced gay world of the Big Apple. Seidel’s leaden, predictable efforts to mine humor out of Matt’s myriad social missteps yield few gems. Although helmer Joe Salazar keeps a large, uneven ensemble moving fluidly around Kurt Boetcher’s attractive, multilevel, multipurpose set, his game attempts to underscore the scripter’s kaleidoscope of strained sitcom “bits” is ultimately defeated.
Barnett’s Matt exudes a boyish guilelessness that seldom varies no matter what hapless situations come his way. Seidel (co-exec producer on CBS’ “The Ghost Whisperer”) infuses all Matt’s emotions into the sexually voracious persona of Matt’s inner voice, the Id (Adam Huss). The playwright misguidedly intends much of this legiter’s supposed yucks to come from Id’s constantly outraged and outrageous reactions to his tangible self’s inability to get them both laid. Despite Huss’ well-timed rejoinders, the overuse of this devise becomes tedious, impeding the flow of the action rather than enhancing it.
As if Id’s constant intrusions don’t slow down our protagonist enough, Seidel feels the need to periodically render Matt completely inert by bombarding his senses with a veritable Greek chorus of inner voices that include his therapist Roberta (Cecelia Antoinette), his ex-boyfriend Patrick (Rob Kirkland), a disapproving younger brother (Blaine Verdos) and the porn star (Wyatt Fenner) whose video is stuck in Matt’s VCR.
“The Id and Bob” does display comic potential when Matt is actually allowed to interact with real people. This is especially true when our hero is confronted by flamboyantly narcissistic Bob (Paul Tigue understudy for Rex Lee). Tigue’s Bob offers a captivating study of total human self-involvement, allowing him to travel the complete journey of his relationship with Matt all by himself. Also showing promise is Matt’s underdeveloped fixation on Bob’s roommate Tom, played with understated charm by Chris Prinzo.
Another potentially rewarding sub theme is Matt’s dead-end temp job at a law firm, dominated by the wonderfully comedic turn of Jessica Randle as Matt’s harried supervisor Stephanie. But Seidel’s commitment to having Huss’ Id do all the emotional interactions while Barnett’s Matt stares into space deflates all the veracity of the scene.
“The Id and Bob” displays some clever, even inspired moments, but this project has no legs to move beyond this outing without a complete overhaul of its premise.