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Bill Engvall

Three cable comedies return with season premieres tonight, and — though two of them are on the same channel — they're all very different.

The Bill Engvall Show (7 p.m., TBS) is exactly the kind of show you used to see on TV all the time — a half-hour sitcom about a married couple with children, headlined by a stand-up comedian.

It's a format that once ruled network television and, in recent years, has all but disappeared.

The fact is that the broadcast networks could do a lot worse than "Engvall," which is rather pleasant if entirely unoriginal. This is not a show that's going to win a lot of awards because the people who give out the awards don't like family sitcoms, but it's also a show a lot of people will feel comfortable with.

Engvall stars as Bill Pearson, a family counselor who's got a great wife, Susan (Nancy Travis) and three kids. Two of them are teenagers, which propels a lot of the story lines.

The biggest problem with "Bill Engvall" is that a format that worked in Season 1 has been tampered with. New producers were brought in and Bill's workplace was eliminated — now everything takes place at home.

And the fictional Bill seems to have lost a few IQ points. He's much more the stereotypical "dumb dad" that was so familiar on family sitcoms — which may have helped kill them off.

"The Bill Engvall Show" still has Engvall and Travis, and they're enough to make this worth watching all by themselves.

My Boys (7:30 p.m., TBS) is at the opposite end of the sitcom scale — it's filmed like a movie (no studio audience); it's about a bunch of people who are (mostly) unrelated and form a pseudo family.

Jordana Spiro stars PJ, a big-city newspaper sportswriter who hangs out with her friends. And almost all of her friends are men (Kyle Howard, Reid Scott, Michael Bunin, Jamie Kaler and Jim Gaffigan, who plays PJ's brother).

When we last saw PJ — more than nine months ago — she was about to fly off to Italy with a guy. We didn't know which guy. We'll find out tonight.

Not that it matters much. This show is more about PJ and her guy friends, not PJ and her guy.

"My Boys" is sharp and funny. Not so much laugh-out-loud funny (although that happens), but clever.

And Spiro is great.

Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-list (10 p.m., Bravo) begins its fourth season — and Griffin is still absolutely hilarious.

This is one of those love-it-or-hate-it shows, however. If you like Griffin, you'll like the show. If her bawdy brand of humor isn't your cup of tea, this won't convert you.

In tonight's episode, we see (among other things) Kathy co-hosting CNN's New Year's Eve 2007 coverage with Anderson Cooper — and her entourage turns it into a drinking game.

I told you. This show is not for everyone.

But Griffin's fans will want to record it because they'll be laughing so hard they'll miss some of the jokes.

And "D-list" will be followed by Bravo's A-list Awards (11 p.m., Bravo), hosted by Griffin, which will honor "those people that have made an indelible mark on the arts." Tim Gunn hosts a red-carpet arrival show at 9:30 p.m.


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