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Deion & Pilar: Prime Time Love

Deion Sanders and his wife Pilar, a onetime model, are a gorgeous couple, and they have three adorable kids together plus Deion's two teenagers who live with them. What they cannot do, unfortunately, is convincingly play themselves in this virtual sitcom crafted around their lives. Instead, they find themselves at the center of a bad reality-based sitcom, complete with Looney Tunes-type music and carefully scripted situations, such as "Deion's daughter goes on a date" or "Pilar challenges Deion by saying she can (handicap) football games." The show is many things, but ready for primetime isn't one of them.

Deion Sanders and his wife Pilar, a onetime model, are a gorgeous couple, and they have three adorable kids together plus Deion’s two teenagers who live with them. What they cannot do, unfortunately, is convincingly play themselves in this virtual sitcom crafted around their lives. Instead, they find themselves at the center of a bad reality-based sitcom, complete with Looney Tunes-type music and carefully scripted situations, such as “Deion’s daughter goes on a date” or “Pilar challenges Deion by saying she can (handicap) football games.” The show is many things, but ready for primetime isn’t one of them.

“I love my life, but being married to a famous celebrity is not easy at all,” Pilar announces at the outset, doubtless hoping to set the stage for the wackiness to follow.

See, Deion — the former football/baseball star-turned-NFL analyst — is really just a big kid himself, albeit one apparently so egomaniacal that he named his son and daughter Deion Jr. and Deiondra. They live in a 40,000-square-foot home in a small Texas town, though initially, one gets very little sense of life outside their living room.

Basking in the domestic largesse that his career as a dazzling athlete and mediocre commentator has provided, Deion won’t help around the house or have “the talk” about birds and bees with his younger kids. So Pilar must invent quirky schemes “I Love Lucy”-style (with an assist, surely, from the story producers) to teach Deion lessons — like demonstrating the value of all that she does as a housewife in the second half-hour. Pilar, you got some ‘splainin’ to do!

Ever since “The Osbournes,” cable nets have been trying to replicate twisted famous/wealthy family dynamics in one manner or another, without realizing that Ozzy’s clan was actually able to be peculiar and natural all at once. Here, every beat is so blatantly produced as to ring utterly hollow, yielding sitcom moments — like Deion meeting his daughter’s date at the door with a baseball bat slung over his shoulder — without the benefit of someone genuinely funny to play them.

The irony of family-based reality TV shows is that being genuinely “real” would likely be boring, but concocting cute encounters to spice things up only makes the entire exercise seem contrived and fake. There’s even a carefully staged whiff of matrimonial sex in the second episode — the “Baby, you’re the greatest” reconciliation after their manufactured tiff.

Strategically, “Prime Time Love” appears to be a perplexing fit for Oxygen, the women’s cable channel recently added to NBC Universal’s portfolio. More than anything, the program feels like a gift from Sanders to his wife — a vanity project to show off his lovely missus.

It’s very sweet in that sense, but next time, start with diamond earrings.

Popular on Variety

Deion & Pilar: Prime Time Love

Oxygen, Tues. April 15, 10:30 p.m.

Production: Produced by Primetime Media Ventures, Tollbooth TV and SokoLobl Entertainment. Executive producers, Kevin Lee, Sam Sokolow, Rob Lobl, Deion Sanders; supervising producer, Colleen Sands; senior producer, Jeff Oliver; producer, Pilar Sanders; lead director, Charles Davis; lead story producer, Erin Paullus; lead editor, James Gordon.

Crew: Music, Michael Tremante. Running time: 30 MIN.

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