Jerry Seinfeld's The Marriage Ref is an original game-show idea, beautifully executed. A panel of funny judges insert themselves into a marital spat, offering opinions on which spouse is right. The winner in each episode gets $25,000, plus a billboard proclaiming that he or she "was right."
The scenario offers a pretext for the comedians to spritz. And what's more fun that watching Seinfeld and his buddies spritz, particularly on the ripe topic of other people's relationships? The season premiere (Sunday, 9 p.m., NBC) features judges Seinfeld, Ricky Gervais and Julianne Moore, who tease the couples and each other mercilessly. To a wife who complains that her husband has neglected her in favor of growing giant pumpkins in their backyard, Gervais says, "If you want to get his attention, just get fat and sit in the garden."
I think The Marriage Ref is wonderful, though I do cop to personal bias. For a critic, the thought of a billboard proclaiming "you were right" is the wish-fulfillment fantasy of a lifetime.
Sunday, 8 pm (TNT)
The band of reformed thieves, con artists and hackers return to pull off Mission: Impossible-style jobs for clients in need. In the season premiere, they agree to join a mountain-climbing expedition to recover evidence from a businessman who disappeared on the peaks. According to his wife, the businessman had uncovered shenanigans at his company just before his mysterious death. The same evil forces that did him in might also target Nate (Timothy Hutton) and the crew. Indeed, the mission is like "a danger cupcake with murder icing," says computer expert Alec (Aldis Hodge).
The show is as enjoyable as ever, thanks to the fine cast. Our operatives not only beat impossible odds, they do it while tossing off effortless wisecracks.
This is one murder cupcake I'd suggest you eat.
Monday, 8 pm (HGTV)
HGTV sends a big red 18-wheeler truck around the country to surprise the network's biggest fans with spectacular home makeovers. Each week, the truck pulls up to a house that needs help, sending the owner into paroxysms of joy. An army of fixer-uppers gets to work, presided over by one of HGTV's star designers.
It will be fun to watch this show all summer from my dark, cramped, outdated living room. (Hint, hint.)
Thursday, 9 pm (USA)
Cutthroat attorney Harvey (Gabriel Macht) is supposed to be a legal genius. One day, con artist Mike (Patrick J. Adams) stumbles into Harvey's law office while on the run from drug dealers. Harvey hires him on the spot, despite his lack of legal training.
That doesn't really seem like something a legal genius would do, does it? But, okay, I'd be willing to suspend disbelief if Suits were at least an enjoyable fairy tale. But it's an off-putting fairy tale, with obnoxious characters and a nasty tone. The script is loaded with crude macho dialogue, as when Harvey tells an opponent: "I'd say the ball's in your court. But the truth is, your balls are in my fist."
Maybe ruthless lawyers would enjoy seeing these people cut each other to pieces, but I doubt there are enough of them in the viewing audience to make Suits a hit.
Thursday, 9 pm (ABC)
Now in its second season, Rookie Blue is enjoyable kitsch about five rookie cops. Even though it's supposed to be a serious drama, the cops all look like models, with the women parading around in midriff-baring halter tops and the guys going shirtless. The soundtrack is overwrought, and the perps are laughable. Ever heard of a philosophy teaching assistant with horn rim glasses and a lust for murder?
Missy Peregrym almost single-handedly saves the series, playing her role with more intensity than it deserves. Here's hoping someone can get her out of that halter top and into a more worthy vehicle.