TV Review: 'Rules' breaks no new ground

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Cliff Lipson/CBS
Oliver Hudson, left, Bianca Kajlich, David Spade, Patrick Warburton and Megyn Price deal with "Rules of Engagement," premiering tonight on CBS.
By Rob Owen
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Do you watch Fox's " 'Til Death"? Probably not, given that show's anemic ratings. But if you do, then you've already seen CBS's "Rules of Engagement" (9:30 tonight), a barely amusing comedy that trods the same tired terrain and adds David Spade for good measure.

Rules of Engagement

When: 9:30 tonight, CBS.
Starring: David Spade.

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Rob Owen reviews last night's "Super Bowl XLI" commercials in Tuned In Journal at Rob Owen's Tuned In Journal.    

Newly engaged Adam (Oliver Hudson) and Jennifer (Bianca Kajlich) attempt to manage their blossoming relationship while longtime married pair Jeff (Patrick Warburton) and Audrey (Megyn Price) work to keep theirs vibrant. Spade plays Russell, their skeevy little perv single friend who continues to pathetically prowl the clubs for younger women, even though he's past his prime.

Although the married couple here is more loving than the Brad Garrett-Joely Fisher pair on " 'Til Death," the situations remain the same: Older couple models behavior that younger couple tries to emulate or avoid.

Besides being uninspired, "Rules" isn't all that funny. In an upcoming episode sent for review, even the studio audience's tittering laughter seems subdued, like they felt obliged to laugh even though the script was sparse with inspiring yuks.

"Rules" also seems out-of-tune with CBS's Monday night comedy block, which has strong appeal to women. This show is designed to appeal to not just Neanderthal guys, but Neanderthal guys with low expectations for a comedy.

In tonight's premiere, written by series creator Tom Hertz, Adam defends his engagement to Russell, saying, "I proposed because I love her."

"That's so gay," Russell replies.

"Being in love with a woman is gay?" Adam asks.

"No," Russell says, "but saying it out loud to a guy is."

In an upcoming episode, Adam and Jennifer argue over keeping a bed Adam slept in with a past girlfriend.

"I know it's irrational, but every time I get in that bed, it feels like Sonya is in it with us," Jennifer complains. Adam smiles at the notion of a threesome.

If that sounds like something that would make you howl with laughter, have at it. But I suspect plenty of viewers will choose to spend their time otherwise engaged.

TV editor Rob Owen can be reached at or 412-263-2582. Ask TV questions at under TV Q&A.


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