Mid-season shows strive for ''Seinfeld'' success -- The WB's ''Zoe, Duncan, Jack, & Jane'' and ABC's ''It's Like, You Know...'' try the NBC hit's nothing formula

By Bruce Fretts
January 15, 1999 at 05:00 AM EST

It’s no secret that everybody in Hollywood is desperately seeking the next Seinfeld. Since Jerry and the gang flew NBC’s coop, the Peacock has fallen from its No. 1 perch. With broadcast-net viewership levels hitting record lows on a seemingly weekly basis, it’s possible the end of Seinfeld could someday be seen as the death knell for the Big Six.

A pair of mid-season sitcoms hope to keep the spirit of Seinfeld alive: The WB’s Zoe, Duncan, Jack &amp Jane follows a quartet of Manhattan teens designed to remind you of Jerry, George, Elaine, and Kramer, while ABC’s It’s Like, You Know… aptly transplants the Nothing concept to L.A.

ZDJ&J, formerly known as Zoe Bean, has been retitled in an attempt to emphasize its ensemble: Zoe (Selma Blair), the wry, Jerry-like lead; Duncan (David Moscow), the high-strung, George-ian stooge; Jane (Azura Skye), the Kramer-esque oddball with the kooky haircut; and her twin, Jack (Michael Rosenbaum), whose connection to Elaine isn’t yet clear. Hey, three out of four ain’t bad. Or, in this case, it is.

Zoe et al. cribs only Seinfeld‘s most superficial elements. The gang hangs at a coffeehouse (a funkier Monk’s), obsesses over physical defects (everyone’s aghast when Zoe’s mom dates a guy with one eyebrow), and unscrupulously pursues romance (Zoe ”befriends” a surly disabled classmate to get closer to her hunky brother). Despite the self-conscious Sein stealing — the Al Roker references, the call-waiting shtick — Zoe ultimately has more in common with teenybopper-coms like ABC’s Boy Meets World, which also happens to be exec-produced by Zoe‘s Michael Jacobs.