Arsenio Hall’s talk show was a success largely because lots of people liked the way he combined friendliness with sassiness, but in his new sitcom, Arsenio, someone forgot the sass. Hall plays Michael Atwood, an anchor for an all-sports channel and newly married to Vivian (Vivica A. Fox), a lawyer. The pilot suggested that the primary focus of Arsenio would not be on Michael’s workplace but on his marriage: Michael must learn how to share his bed (Vivian hogs the blankets and snores) and how to comfort his wife more sensitively when she fails to get a promotion. Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus is invoked; Vivian reads a Terry McMillan novel before bed. In short, Michael and Vivian are the kind of arid middle-class couple that gives fresh resonance to the term bourgeois. Fox, although pleasant, is required to do little more than react to Hall, who in turn does his eager best to give his punchless punchlines some snap. Their banter and the general tone of the show are painfully similar to that of Paul and Jamie on Mad About You. Hey, Arsenio, your show had better get funnier fast, lest your disappointed fans begin to get mad at you.

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