Jeremy Eaton

TAKE IT FROM somebody who's been married THREE times (as far as I know): The institution is OVERRATED. Let's take Mrs. Wm.™ Steven Humphrey the First, for example. Lovely woman—if you exclude the blackout rampages. I thought we were staying together for the sex, until I learned that almost every sexual experience we shared was later classified as a blackout rampage. (Hey, but don't knock it until you've tried it!)

Then there was Mrs. Wm.™ Steven Humphrey the Second. Again, perfectly charming, salt-of-the-earth kind of gal... when she wasn't huffing silver spray paint. However, on the upside, she was very creative while under the influence, and would create psychedelic yet extremely detailed paintings of the times she would have sex with hobos behind a dumpster. (Last Christmas, I purchased one for Mrs. Wm.™ Steven Humphrey the First.)

And last (but probably not the last), was Mrs. Wm.™ Steven Humphrey the Third, which should barely even count since it only lasted 27 minutes. Long story short: She caught me having a threesome with one of her bridesmaids and the church organist in the rectory. In my defense, it was intended as a wedding present for both of us that I decided to unwrap early.

Anyway, I'm starting to suspect that marriage may be a flawed institution. And as proof, here are three shows debuting this week that just may prove my hypothesis.

The Marriage Ref (NBC, Sun Feb 28, 10:30 pm). Produced by Jerry "I was pretty cool until I poop-talked Conan O'Brien" Seinfeld, The Marriage Ref takes troubled married couples and lets a panel of celebrities help work out their differences. Here's a possible example of what could happen on this show. Me to Taylor Swift: "Hey Taylor Swift, my wife goes on blackout rampages but only when we have sex. She thinks this adds 'spice' to our coitus, while I think my penis really, really hurts. What should we do?" Taylor Swift: "Umm... can someone please ask Kanye to interrupt me?"

Little Parents, First Baby (TLC, Mon March 1, 8 pm). Craig and Becky are a young married couple, who are also facing the challenge of raising their new baby. However, since this is a TLC show, Craig and Becky are required by federal law to be little people. Here's a possible example of what could happen on this show. "OMG! A little person is carrying a baby! Don't drop it! The end."

Parenthood (NBC, Tues March 2, 10 pm). Based on the dumb 1989 movie of the same name, Parenthood is an hour-long dramedy about the toils of modern marriage and raising kids. Sorry, since this is NBC, there are no little people. However, there are mopey second-tier actors such as Lauren Graham, Craig T. Nelson, and Peter Krause. Hilarity, thy name is suburban malaise! Here's a possible example of what could happen on this show. A young wife is devastated after learning her new husband engaged in a foursome with his three ex-wives... and a can of silver spray paint... and a hobo. (The hobo's there in case of a blackout rampage.)

Home of the blackout rampage. steve@portlandmercury.com

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 25

8:00 NBC WINTER OLYMPICS

Tonight: figure skating, freestyle skiing, and the beginning of the end of my patience.

10:30 COM THE SARAH SILVERMAN PROGRAM

Sarah invents an imaginary write-in candidate for mayor, and surprisingly, things don't go well.

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 26

9:00 SYFY CAPRICA

While exploring the virtual world, Tamara befriends some gamers (who are just as socially inept as in the real world).

9:00 HBO THE RICKY GERVAIS SHOW

Tonight's topics: charities, public nudity, and lion mutilation in Cambodia. I love this show.

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 27

11:30 NBC SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE

Host: Jennifer Lopez! Musical guest: Jennifer Lopez! Big booty: Jennifer Lopez!

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 28

7:00 NBC WINTER OLYMPICS

Closing ceremonies! Can we just give them their medals, and PLEASE get back to regular programming??

10:30 NBC THE MARRIAGE REF

Debut! Grumpy couples get their grievances settled by disinterested celebrities. This could work.

MONDAY, MARCH 1

8:00 ABC THE BACHELOR

Season finale! Jake's final choice is hampered when his family correctly identifies his girlfriends as "filthy whores."

8:00 TLC LITTLE PARENTS, FIRST BABY

Debut! Little people Craig and Becky attempt to raise an average-sized baby without having it crush them.

TUESDAY, MARCH 2

10:00 NBC PARENTHOOD

Debut! A new TV dramedy based on the movie (which doesn't co-star Rick Moranis... BOOO!).

10:30 SPIKE PLAYERS

Debut! Two pals open a sports bar in this sitcom starring members of the Upright Citizens Brigade!

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 3

10:00 FX NIP/TUCK

Series finale! Sean and Christian go their separate ways, but not without help from Joan Rivers, Melanie Griffith, and other post-op celebs!

10:00 ABC OPRAH WINFREY OSCAR SPECIAL

Past and present Oscar winners/nominees interview each other. Let the ass kissing begin!