Came home from my regular evening bike loop-ride up the L.A. River and through Griffith Park with friends Steve and Alice and found a pot of my baby’s  scrumptious pasta and shrimp on the stove my baby comfortably ensconced on the sofa midway through an episode of “My Boys,” a new TBS sitcom on the tube.

After dishing up the delectables, I sat down next to her and watched the show. It didn’t take me long to grow to like the show’s lead, Jordana Spiro, who I was previously unaware of in part because she’s performed in stuff I don’t watch, like the roma-com (more like coma-com) “Must Love Dogs” and something called “The Huntress” on something called the USA Network.

But she really and immediately shines in this. She’s got great impulses and fine comic timing and a wonderful presence and thankfully she’s not drop-dead gorgeous… more like unorthodoxically cute. In other words: real and accessible. I wouldn’t be surprised if the role wasn’t written specifically for her.

As far as I could tell about said role from what I gleaned through the tail end of the episode, she’s a sports reporter and single and looking for Mr. Right and a tomboy with a cadre of guy friends who treat her like just one of them and play poker seemingly every night of the week in her spaciously bitchin’ and well-appointed apartment that there’s just no way she can afford on a sports writer’s salary. Oh yeah, and there’s the attractive girlfriend who dispenses romance advice.

The remainder of the episode pretty much centered around the attraction she had for the hunky new addtion to the sports-section stable and how it got off on the right foot before veering hard into Awkwardland. It ended and I figured Spiro and the snappy writing was something I might tune-in again, but nothing at this point worth a season pass on the TiVo.

Now, in the middle of pretty much each commercial break was an ad for Match.com featuring Dr. Phil telling a hapless single waitress gal that while her IQ was fine her “Guy-Q” wasn’t. This is important primarily because at one point the attractive girlfriend who is suddenly in post-breakup mode makes reference to surfing the single and specific seas of match.com. I involuntarily twinged at the blatant and shamelss example of character-endorsed product placement, and I hoped it was nothing more than a one-timer.

Nope.


Apparently the plan is one time — per episode. Because not long after a second episode launched there was the attractive girlfriend spouting off about who from Match.com she was jetting off to see. My reaction was not subtle, which is another way of saying that Susan rolled her eyes hard at my sudden and histrionic delivery of two middle fingers pointed directly at the TV in protest for TBS thinking it could sucker me into watching a sitcom when in fact all this show is — regardless of the appeal of its cast and the snap of its witty repartee — is just an ad for an online dating service.

I tried to explain my outrage to Susan but while she understood she didn’t put much stock in my point that promoting the show’s prime advertiser in the script is just flagrantly foul and actually serves as a distraction. Could you imagine Norm in “Cheers” telling Sam “Gimme a Michelob” instead of “Gimme a beer?” The writers of “My Boys” could just as easily have substituted “online dating” for “match.com” but because a deal has been struck they are obligated to shill by having “match.com” come out of some character’s mouth at least once a show. And the trouble is that’s what I think about whenever I hear it. It’s like a roadblock.

Well anyway, despite its tranparent intent to whore for ad revenue I didn’t abandon the second episode, which suffered in a number of other ways. For one, she’s a sports writer — and at the Chicago Sun Times, no less — in name only. Nothing’s taken place where she’s at her desk or on assignment or on deadline. At one point she even tells her girlfriend that she has “a few days off work.” Oh really? Must be nice. For another, there’s her voiceover narration — yawn. And for another, the arc of the second episode continued on with her interest in the hunky new guy chock full with rehashed clichés what with her giving out the wrong signals and then confusing the dude even more and then getting jealous when he shows up at a bar with another woman and then boring me near to tears with a drawn out reconciliation in the kitchen after yet another poker night.

Jordana Spiro is definitely a talented and appealing young actress and will be the only reason I might give her show another go — at least until the next time one of its characters sings the praises of its pimp dating service.