If truth-in-advertising laws applied to television shows, "The Secret Lives of Men" (Wednesday, 8:30 p.m., ABC/Ch. 4) would have a different title.
Something along the lines of "The Boring, Annoying Lives of Three Middle-aged White Men."Creator/executive producer Susan Harris has had a couple of really great ideas for TV shows in her life. One was "Soap," which she later recycled into two far inferior series, "Hail to the Chief" and "Good & Evil."
The other was "The Golden Girls," which she has recycled into the far inferior "Secret Lives of Men."
This time, instead of three feisty older women, Harris has tried to make humor out of three divorced guys who live in Manhattan. And it just doesn't work - largely because the three guys are such unlikeable cartoon figures.
Phil (Brad Whitford) is an obsessive, driven guy who is a business manager for professional athletes. He's loud and acerbic and aims most of his acid wit at his ex-wife and women in general.
Michael (Peter Gallagher) is a successful renovator who is still in love with his ex-wife and misses his children terribly. He's also a bit of a dim bulb who is a bit slow on the uptake at times.
But it's Andy (Mitch Rouse) who's the real idiot. This guy is dumber than Rose on "The Golden Girls" but with none of the sweetness. He's just too stupid to be in the least bit believable.
The only secret we learn in Wednesday's premiere involves Michael's ex-wife and an unseen fourth man. Oh, we see the guys play golf quite a bit and we hear them moan about their lots in life quite a bit too much, but it's all overly familiar and unfunny stuff.
If I want to hear a half-hour of whining, I'll turn off the TV and listen to my kids. (Or go back and read a few TV columns.)
Who wants to hear three successful, middle-aged men whine about how unfairly life has treated them every week?
Maybe Harris has a third great idea for a TV show. But "The Secret Lives of Men" isn't it.