The holidays may be over, but viewers get a scare from the ghost of a writer's strike future with a new reality show that eerily foreshadows television's fate sans real creative input. "Matched in Manhattan" is basically "Sex and the City" meets "The Dating Game" and the concept is somewhat promising.

The holidays may be over, but viewers get a scare from the ghost of a writer’s strike future with a new reality show that eerily foreshadows television’s fate sans real creative input. “Matched in Manhattan” is basically “Sex and the City” meets “The Dating Game” and the concept is somewhat promising. But the execution is as painful as trolling through chat rooms on a Saturday night.

Show follows Matt Titus, a New York dating coach and so-called professional relationship expert, who, with the help of his wife and partner Tamsen Fadal and associate Eddie Varley, try to match up Manhattan’s Least Wanted.

New York is a tough town for all kinds of business, especially dating. Still, Titus’ clients seem particularly impaired. First episode features such a wide range of clueless subjects that it makes one wonder how they survive the Big Apple at all.

In addition to basic dating advice, the show is filled with Matt-isms, or what Titus believes are catchy little phrases to help enlighten his clients. For instance, “Matt-a-morphosis” is the supposed change one goes through to become more datable. His groundbreaking theory: try to look nice. Then there’s creating the “Love Shack,” which means making an apartment date ready.

When doling out these pearls of wisdom, one gets the feeling that Titus is simply cannibalizing back issues of Cosmo, circa 1979. He tells one female client to update her electronics because men like TV. He also advises against baby talk and stuffed animals, which is generally sound advice for anyone over the age of ten. And a few of his ideas, such as hanging out at the early morning coffee wagon on Wall Street to meet people, are vaguely scary.

The show does have a certain Yenta-like appeal in seeing if the couples featured do strike a match, but schmaltzy production standards along with Titus’ cheesy looking office equipment and equally amateurish selection process (heart-shaped Post-its), makes online dating sites look downright masterful by comparison.

Some props should be given for Titus’ personal approach to his clients and his down-playing salacious tidbits and inappropriate details.

Matched in Manhattan

Lifetime; Fri., Jan. 4; 9:30 p.m.

Production

Filmed on location in New York, New York by Markmark Productions for Lifetime Television. Executive producers, Mark Efman, Mark Farrell, Sara Chazen-Leand; co-executive producer, Amy Kohn; supervising producer, Richard Van Meter.

Crew

Producers, Gil Ilam, Jordanna Starr; Associate producers, Iraida Gomez, Melissa Hunter, post producer, Aaron Seliquini; editor, Paul Viskup; casting, Barbara Barna, Jodi Colins, Nicole Abramovici . Running time: 30 minutes.

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