Oh, what a mess this is -- an entire sitcom built around the embarrassment and humiliation of one man. It is marginally less depressing than, say, The Office, because at least here the embarrassment comes at the hand of chance and bad luck, rather than being doled out to all of the show's characters, by all of the show's characters.
Our victim is Sam (Kyle Bornheimer), who is engaged to Melanie (Erinn Hayes). Sam and Mel are planning to tell her parents (Nancy Lenehan and Kurtwood Smith) about their engagement (and about Mel's pregnancy) at dinner, but everything that can possibly go wrong for Sam does. Sam's list of embarrassments includes -- and this is all in just the first episode -- being vomited on in a cab by a drunken co-worker, being accused by that co-worker of sexual assault, showing up at the in-laws' wearing nothing but an impromptu garbage bag diaper, urinating on the long-brining goose that's sitting in the kitchen, watching Dad slip on said urine and get a concussion from the fall, incorrectly telling Mel and Mom that Dad is dead, crashing his car into Dad's and knocking him unconscious yet again, and destroying the painting of Dad that Mom had commissioned as his birthday gift.
The casting isn't bad; Bornheimer and Hayes are likable enough, and Bornheimer has to be likable, if we're to have any sympathy at all for a guy who screws up this frequently. Lenehan and Smith, masters of frustration and the slow burn, are perfectly cast in their roles; watching these two veterans flounder about trying desperately to get laughs where none are to be found is the saddest aspect of the show.
But despite the strength of the actors, the show's a disaster. Let's hope it dies quickly, and that CBS moves The New Adventures of Old Christine back to Monday night, giving it a full 2-hour block of decent comedy.