'Mad About You' offers adult laughs

September 23, 1992|By David Zurawik | David Zurawik,Television Critic

"Mad About You" is the second funniest pilot of the new season. But its star, Paul Reiser, is funnier than either Susan Dey or Jay Thomas, stars of "Love and War," the funniest pilot of the year.

NBC is packaging Reiser and "Mad About You" as the second half of what it hopes will be a one-two comedy knockout punch on a very competitive and financially important night. Reiser & Co. follows Jerry Seinfeld and "Seinfeld" at 9:30 on WMAR (Channel 2).

If you like "Seinfeld," you'll probably like "Mad About You." Reiser traffics in much of the same is-this-crazy-or-what? humor as "Seinfeld."

But the series is actually more like CBS' "Love and War" than "Seinfeld." Like "Love and War," it's set in Manhattan and centers on an adult relationship between an ethnic guy and WASPy woman.

The relationship is between newlyweds Paul (Reiser) and Jamie Cooper (Helen Hunt). In tonight's episode, "stuff," as Paul Cooper puts it, has come between them and their sexual relationship.

The urgency each feels for sexual release and the way it dominates tonight's episode is a good example of broadcast TV trying to be more like cable in terms of standards and practices. It's mainly funny "stuff," as Cooper would say, but it might confuse some preteen viewers. Parents probably need to know that about a show airing at 9:30 p.m.

NBC has a series with genuine hit potential in "Mad About You," but it might have to find a new time period for the show -- away from competition from "Melrose Place" on Fox and an ABC lineup that has "Home Improvement" going head-to-head with "Seinfeld." But this is the kind of wise and wry adult comedy that many viewers will go out of their way to set a VCR for or watch.

@

'Mad About You'

When: Tonight at 9:30.

Where: WMAR (Channel 2).

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