The Christine in question in The New Adventures of Old Christine is hardly old. She’s played by 45-year-old Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who has only become sleeker, chicer, and sexier in the years since Seinfeld ceased production and Watching Ellie (as well as Arrested Development) came and went. There’s no danger of this Christine becoming a good old girl, either, since the Louis-Dreyfus breed of women pride themselves on representing the opposite of go-along dames; they’re content, in their neurotic way, to take their knocks as charmingly exasperated square pegs whose sharp corners regularly get bruised in a round-hole world.

Instead, as this old Christine discovers at the start of the new yet frustratingly old-fashioned sitcom about the hot demo of single moms, her ex-husband, Richard (Clark Gregg), is now dating a considerably younger woman (Emily Rutherfurd) who shares her name. And the Version 2.0 Christine is far too pleasant and placid to hate. For that matter, Richard is also a paragon of likability — an expressive, postfeminist fellow who shares amicable custody of the divorced couple’s 8-year-old son, Ritchie (Trevor Gagnon).

But the kid isn’t the story; neither is Richard, his new squeeze, nor the laconic (straight) adult brother (Hamish Linklater) who spouts the droll one-liners previously in the possession of Murphy Brown‘s Eldin and the gay best friends who glitter in comedies everywhere. Rather, The New Adventures of Old Christine, created by actress-turned-Will & Grace writer Kari Lizer, makes a forthright pitch for the affections of fortysomething women — prime CBS viewer meat.

In which case, why are all the other women around Christine so mockable? While Louis-Dreyfus does well on behalf of smart, funny, un-blond, urbane chicks who are more insecure than their wit and wardrobe suggest, her character’s daily life is an obstacle course of irritating sisters. At Ritchie’s new private school, two pastel-clad, go-getter moms with matching gold-streaked locks torment Christine with their gossip and fussy school-fund-raising projects. At the ”30-minute workout gym” Christine owns — the joint bears considerable resemblance to the all-women Curves chain — the towel girl is a slacker ditz. Eavesdropping at a restaurant a few episodes later, Christine empathizes with an attractive, quick-witted man enduring a blind date with a pedantic, humorless woman not nearly as delightful as our heroine. (Clearly Christine and Snappy Guy make a better fit.)

I’m hoping this rather agitated effort to promote Louis-Dreyfus-flavored fabulousness will calm down as The New Adventures of Old Christine proceeds. (Wanda Sykes makes a welcome appearance in episode 3, and that’s one gal with a bracingly short tolerance for feminine posturing.) I’m hoping, too, that the star, whose sophisticated beauty contradicts her flailing physicality so delightfully, will get a chance to develop a character that more deeply reflects the new Julia. A nation of comedy-starved Old Christine identifiers turns its lonely eyes to her.

The New Adventures of Old Christine
  • TV Show