How sex ruined these TV couples. Once the innuendo became action, ''Frasier'' and these four other popular shows started losing steam, says Bruce Fretts
Jane Leeves, Frasier, ...
Credit: Frasier: Chris Haston

How sex ruined these TV couples

It’s the month of Valentine’s Day — and more importantly, February sweeps — so love is in (and on) the air. Not that this is necessarily a good thing. As has been proven many times on TV, sexual tension is much more fun to watch than consummation. The most delightful small-screen couples are the ones who are still in flirting mode: Jennifer Garner and Michael Vartan on ”Alias,” Lauren Graham and Scott Patterson on ”Gilmore Girls,” Tom Cavanagh and Julie Bowen on ”Ed,” Tom Welling and Kristin Kreuk on ”Smallville,” Sam Donaldson and Cokie Roberts on ”This Week.” Okay, we’re kidding about the last one. Kinda. Yet TV writers continue to hook up characters and make us sick with boredom. Here are the most egregious current offenders.

Anthony Edwards and Alex Kingston, ”ER” Was the teenage-daughter-out-of-control plotline really the best one the writers could come up with for Drs. Greene and Corday? (And what was with the baby taking Ecstasy out of Big Sister’s backpack? Please!). The whole story seemed like a set-up to make Kingston look as unattractive as humanly possible and give Edwards an excuse for his impending exit. Only slightly less nauseating are Noah Wyle’s Dr. Carter and Sherry Stringfield’s prodigal Dr. Lewis, who fell in love because… well, we’re still waiting for an explanation of that one.

Jenna Elfman and Thomas Gibson, ”Dharma & Greg” This show has been off the air for the last few weeks — did anyone notice? Proof that wackiness can turn irksome quickly, ABC’s odd-couple sitcom has overstayed its welcome in only its fifth season. They’ve tried everything to keep the formula fresh: marital problems (Jenna Elfman’s goofy Dharma made goo-goo eyes at Herculean hunk Kevin Sorbo), personality switches (Thomas Gibson’s levelheaded attorney Greg briefly went off the deep end), even a car-crash cliffhanger. But viewers have filed for divorce, citing irreconcilable differences.

Jessica Alba and Michael Weatherly, ”Dark Angel” This show has been on the air for the last few weeks — did anyone notice? Since Fox moved it to Friday nights this fall, last season’s buzz magnet has vanished from the pop-cultural radar. No doubt this is due in part to costars Alba and Weatherly revealing their real-life romance. Aside from the creepy age difference, nobody wants to watch an actual couple try to strike up sparks onscreen. Call it the Ted Danson-Mary Steenburgen Syndrome. Or maybe ”Eyes Wide Shut”-itis. Or just: Ick!

Jim Belushi and Courtney Thorne-Smith, ”According to Jim” When we first heard the ex-”Melrose Place” and ”Ally McBeal” hottie was going to play the wife of the ”K-9” mutt, we thought they were kidding. Turns out the joke was on us — and it’s the only laugh we’ve gotten from this stale freshman sitcom so far. Adding insult to idiocy, ”Jim” has defied expectations and gotten picked up for a second season. It’s this year’s ”Yes, Dear.” That’s not a compliment.

David Hyde Pierce and Jane Leeves, ”Frasier” No wonder NBC had to agree to multimillion dollar deals to keep these two actors on board of this too-long-running sitcom. If they’re even half as tired of pretending that the recently-engaged Niles and Daphne are attracted to each other as we are of pretending to believe them, we wouldn’t want their jobs for all the money in Burbank.

Who are your least favorite TV couples?

According to Jim
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