Picks and Pans Review: Pride & Joy

updated 04/10/1995 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/10/1995 01:00AM

NBC (Tuesdays, 9:30 p.m. ET)

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With Seinfeld, Mad About You and Friends, NBC has cornered the market on comedies peopled with effusive, neurotic young New Yorkers. And the network is still adding to its quotient of Noel Coward-for-the-MTV-generation sitcoms. This latest entry stars Craig Bierko (Madman of the People) and Julie Warner (Doc Hollywood) as a yuppie couple in Manhattan adjusting to life as first-time parents. In the apartment across the hall, playing the Mertzes to their Ricardos, are Jeremy Piven and Caroline Rhea.

You know this is postmodern TV because couples talk openly about sex and cozily reconcile in the middle of a Rolling Stones concert. (By the way, that latter scenario is virtually impossible. Even at a Paul Simon concert, you have to scream to have a conversation.) The humor is often clever, but it's always delivered in stagey declamations. Imagine a tennis match without volleys, just serves. There is also a notable absence of chemistry between Bierko and Warner. The series savior is Piven as a househusband who got axed from his Wall Street job because he suffers from "excitement disorder." Piven gives a magnificent comic performance as a man who is fed up with life but battles on, mostly on reflex.

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