'Standing' knee deep in mediocrity

Proof that Jackie Gleason's Ralph Kramden character still serves as the archetype for television comedy can be found on tonight's new sitcom offering, "Still Standing" (8:30 p.m., CBS). Series star Mark Addy may have cut his teeth in British films including "The Full Monty," but he has clearly communed with the spirit of "The Great One." Addy plays Bill Miller, a blue-collar Chicago guy still madly in love with Judy (Jami Gertz), his wife of 15 years. Following a formula passed down from "The Honeymooners" to "King of Queens" and "According to Jim," a chubby lunk of a man mysteriously earns the devotion of a thinner, more beautiful woman who looks fifteen years his junior.

Despite sporadic glimmers of chemistry between the two leads, "Still" is saddled with some of the dumbest dialogue this side of "Yes, Dear." There was a time when you couldn't even say the word "toilet" on television. On this show, Bill Miller sells toilets for a living. So don't go looking for "Still" to set a new American standard for sophisticated wit. "Still" also features one of the more obnoxious child characters of the young season. In the opening scene, Lauren (Renee Olstead) butters up her mother and insults her dolt of a dad in ways that make you long for the return of corporal punishment. Teenager Brian (Taylor Ball) is far more interesting. Bill worries that he has become a bookish nerd. When Brian asks him for advice about attracting girls, Bill suggests that he try the bad-boy approach, and regales him with tales of his halcyon youth spent blowing up toilets (again) with cherry bombs. Naturally, the brainy Brian doesn't exactly follow in his old man's footsteps.

In a perfect world, this tepid update of "Grounded for Life" would quickly disappear, only to be remembered as Addy's American sitcom fling. But given its enviable post-"Raymond" spot on the schedule, "Still" could be standing for years to come. Avert your eyes.

� Beginning tonight, Bravo will air back-to-back episodes of "The Larry Sanders Show" (9 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.) every weeknight. On "Sanders," Garry Shandling plays a nervous late-night talk-show host who is continually involved in petty misunderstandings with his sycophant sidekick Hank Kingsley (Jeffrey Tambor) or his producer Artie (Rip Torn). During its six-year run (1992-98), "Sanders" received 56 Emmy nominations and featured dozens of guest stars playing themselves, including Jennifer Aniston, Jim Carrey, Helen Hunt, Jerry Seinfeld, Howard Stern, Robin Williams and David Duchovny. Easily one of the top five comedies of the 1990s, "Sanders" paved the way for the inspired silliness of HBO's current hit "Curb Your Enthusiasm."

Tonight's other highlights

� Has-beens submit to humiliation and military style discipline on the special "Celebrity Boot Camp" (7 p.m., Fox).

� Rival teams turn ordinary cars into outrageous performance machines on the new weekly series "Monster Garage" (7 p.m., Discovery), hosted by custom motorcycle legend Jesse James.

� Ray criticizes Ally's teacher on "Everybody Loves Raymond" (8 p.m., CBS).

� Baltimore hosts Denver on "Monday Night Football" (8 p.m., ABC).

� Riots ensue after a power outage on "Third Watch" (8 p.m., NBC). Doesn't that happen on "The Simpsons" in every other episode?

� Horatio's former mentor is killed by a bomb on "CSI: Miami" (9 p.m., CBS).

� A mad bomber holds the morgue hostage on "Crossing Jordan" (9 p.m., NBC).


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.