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LOOKING FOR A MAN IN `MY BOYS'.

Byline: David Kronke Television Critic

We've all heard baseball used as a metaphor for life so many times that the next person who tries it probably deserves a bat upside the head. But we'll grant temporary dispensation to TBS' new sitcom, ``My Boys,'' which employs it only as a metaphor for dating.

``My Boys,'' premiering Tuesday, is a much milder ``Sex and the City'' hoping to lure more male viewers. Jordana Spiro brings a freshly scrubbed appeal to P.J. Franklin, a Chicago Cubs beat writer who's one of the guys in the press box and is desperately searching for a guy outside it.

She yearns for a relationship with the firm ground rules of baseball. In ``Sex/City''-style voice-over narration, she muses, ``Can you imagine what it would be like if the foul lines were always moving or if sometimes it was two strikes and you're out? If you've ever tried to date someone, you probably can.''

You'd think she wouldn't have that much trouble, given that most of her closest friends are guys, albeit dysfunctional ones in the tried-and-true way of sitcoms: Brendan (Reid Scott), who can't extricate himself from a bad relationship; her brother Andy (Jim Gaffigan), stuck in a henpecked marriage; loser Kenny (Michael Bunin); commitment-phobic ladies man Mike (Jamie Kaler); and Bobby (Kyle Howard), a new sportswriter to whom she's attracted, but they can't seem to get on the same page romantically.

Pal Stephanie (Kellee Stewart), who's also looking for love (sitcom rule No. 1: Characters are forbidden to be in a stable, happy relationship), commiserates as her romantic confidante.

``My Boys'' is affable and refreshingly likes its characters a lot. But it sure could stand to be a lot funnier: The dialogue is plenty quippy, though less frequently clever. But, unlike other single-camera shows, it feels like there are pauses for laughs in the dialogue, although the show doesn't have a laugh track.

This makes the show feel flatter than it actually is. Through five episodes, I was able to acclimate to the show's rhythms, and eventually so should viewers -- if, that is, they don't find it too awkward initially and tune out early.

Attention, shoppers

TBS introduces another new comedy tonight: ``10 Items or Less,'' starring John Lehr (who co-created the show) as Leslie Pool, the optimistic if buffoonish manager of a small, struggling grocery store. His employees are the usual assortment of idiots; his competition, the mega-chain Super Value Mart, is just across the street and run with fierce determination by his high-school crush Amy (Jennifer Elise Cox, Jan Brady in the ``Brady Bunch'' movies).

``10 Items'' is improvised, and a little too often it shows. Though Lehr has an inspired riff in next week's episode, where Pool tries to kick Girl Scouts out of his store because customers aren't patronizing his cookie aisle (``Do you want a merit badge for Bleeding the Little Guy Dry?''), often, there seems to be a bit of a disconnect in the dialogue between the characters.

Also next week, Pool tries to profit off a wall stain that looks like Jesus. FX's far funnier ``It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia'' managed to make that plot line wickedly funny; here it's handled fairly benignly. As is the whole show; it's like Lehr and his collaborators have cheerfully and conveniently forgotten that all the characters are stuck in dead-end jobs.

David Kronke, (818) 713-3638

david.kronke@dailynews.com

MY BOYS - Three stars

What: Jordana Spiro stars as a Chicago sportswriter surrounded by male friends but no one to date.

Where: TBS.

When: 10 and 10:30 p.m. Tuesday, thereafter 10 p.m. Mondays.

In a nutshell: Plenty affable; could be funnier.

10 ITEMS OR LESS - Two and one half stars

What: Improvised sitcom set in a struggling grocery store.

Where: TBS.

When: 11 tonight.

In a nutshell: Benign, with a few laughs here and there.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Nov 27, 2006
Words:647
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