Simon

The series' bow centers on Simon (Williams), a hapless dolt who frames everything based on the storylines of TV series of the past as he tries to support his pensive brother Carl (Jason Bateman) -- a divorced, unemployed MBA who can't score a gig, despite impeccable credentials.

The series’ bow centers on Simon (Williams), a hapless dolt who frames everything based on the storylines of TV series of the past as he tries to support his pensive brother Carl (Jason Bateman) — a divorced, unemployed MBA who can’t score a gig, despite impeccable credentials.

When Simon accidentally lands a job as a programming exec with Vintage TV, a cabler whose repertoire boasts TV series of the “Father Knows Best” era, he is in his element, tapping his tube-friendly temperament to make bonafide programming suggestions.

Acting highlights are few, yet Bateman ably provides the ballast that keeps the seg from going too far afield with one-liners as scriptor Danny Jacobson (co-creator of “Mad About You”) uses the unwelcomed predicament of Bateman’s character as a source for serious introspection.

Buffered by Williams’ use and exhaustion of every conceivable punch line to keep things light, the combined moods take on a sort of yin-and-yang quality.

Director Ellen Gittelsohn wisely draws on the chemistry between Bateman and Williams to propel much of the show. As much as Jacobson’s tightly scripted dialogue, this dynamic keeps the proceedings afloat.

Simon

(Sun. (10), 8:30-9 p.m., WB)

Production: Taped in Culver City by In Front Prods. in association with TriStar TV. Exec producers, Ellen Gittelsohn, Marjorie Weitzman, Danny Jacobson, Donald Todd; producer, Walter Barnett; writer, Jacobson; director, Gittelsohn; editor, Vince Humphrey; director of photography, Alan Walker; art director, Robert Strohmaier; sound, Larry Stephens; music, Stewart Levin. Cast: Harland Williams, Jason Bateman, Clifton Powell, Paxton Whitehead, Patrick Breen, Andrea Bendewald, Juliette Jeffers, Jocelyn Seagrave. Though WB's "Simon" is a mishmash of ideas seemingly struggling to find a focus, it is saved by the believably dimwitted Harlan Williams, a standup comedian with a gift for making even the banal interesting. But the show's producers will have to advance beyond the one dimensional dufus angle that is excessively milked for laughs and let series' clearly talented cast take turns in the spotlight if "Simon" is to become a netlet staple.

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