As is so often the case, "The Real Wedding Crashers" plays better as a three-minute trailer than a full-blown series -- a concept more promising in theory than the elaborate execution. Cleverly enlisting the bride and groom to "punk" everyone at their wedding, this hour from "Punk'd" producers Ashton Kutcher and Jason Goldberg wheezes and labors in building toward the inevitable reveal -- representing a slog for the modest payoff.

As is so often the case, “The Real Wedding Crashers” plays better as a three-minute trailer than a full-blown series — a concept more promising in theory than the elaborate execution. Cleverly enlisting the bride and groom to “punk” everyone at their wedding, this hour from “Punk’d” producers Ashton Kutcher and Jason Goldberg wheezes and labors in building toward the inevitable reveal — representing a slog for the modest payoff. Series nevertheless appears to have commercial potential and won’t need an unduly long guest list to outdo “Studio 60″ and “The Black Donnellys” in this season’s post-”Heroes” procession.

The enduring mystery is what kind of couples would subject friends and family to such a prank on their “special day” for 42 minutes of primetime glory, but second-guessing the motivations of reality-TV participants has long since become a fruitless pastime.

The show itself, meanwhile, is so heavily produced, the wires occasionally show. For starters, crashing the wedding apparently isn’t sufficient fodder for an hourlong program, thus requiring that the producers stage various hidden-camera stunts in the days leading up to the ceremony.

In essence, then, this is really “Punk’d: Bridal Party Edition” — first convincing a groomsman he’s ruined the wedding dress, nearly getting the groom arrested by bogus cops and finding the venue tented not long before the wedding.

These moments provide a rather pallid build-up toward the main event, which makes sense: It’s only on the actual wedding day when a snafu risks becoming truly disaster. Yet things at this first wedding and reception are only a little screwy, not quite deliriously wrong, from the “minister” taking a call on his cellphone midvows to the “waiter” snatching plates of food when the guests have barely had a chance to take a bite.

Five performers — working overtime in the energy dept. — earnestly mount these merry mixups, also infiltrating the festivities as a long-lost friend of the groom and the wedding planner. You can sense the conceit is running out of steam, though, given how frantically the show begins pointing toward the reveal, teasing it at practically every act break. (A small aside here on the closing credits, which make good use of the Young Rascals classic “Good Loving” and contain a disclaimer that states, “Producer does not encourage or condone any illegal or dangerous activity by any person or persons,” proving that the “Punk’d” gang isn’t at MTV anymore.)

Ultimately, the title, concept and glancing connection to a hit movie could still make “Real Wedding Crashers” a genuine hit, although the quick demise of two scripted series with weddings as a hook — ABC’s “Big Day” and Fox’s “The Wedding Bells” — should temper some of that bullishness.

At the very least, the six-episode run promises to be less of a ratings drag than the timeslot’s prior tenants. It’s just too bad that watching the show brings to mind attending the wedding of someone you barely know or don’t really like: Sure, it would be better if everything went well, but after awhile, all you really want is for it to be over so you can get out of there.

The Real Wedding Crashers

NBC, Mon. April 23, 10 P.M.

Production

Produced by Katalyst Films and Television and New Line Television. Executive producers, Ashton Kutcher, Jason Goldberg, Karey Burke, Rich Meehan, Jon Kroll, Jim Rosenthal; co-executive producer, Brian Smith; supervising producer, Anna Pousho; producer, Matt Mazzant; directors, Goldberg, Smith.

Crew

Editor, Jackson Anderer; music, Jeff Lippencott, Mark T. Williams; production designer, Oscar Albuerne; casting, Allison Kaz, Nicole Garcia. Running time: 60 MIN.

Cast

Cast: Steve Byrne, Ben Gleib, Desi Lydic, Catherine Reitman, Gareth Reynolds
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