'Married Man': Another Strong Series

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It looks as if Home Box Office has found yet another strong original series to tide viewers over until the next season of The Sopranos.

The Mind of the Married Man
has been billed as the male counterpart to another HBO stalwart, Sex and the City, but that's overstating things. While Sex
pays almost equal attention to Carrie and her single New York friends, Married Man
shines its spotlight directly on Micky Barnes (Mike Binder), a political columnist for a fictional Chicago newspaper. His nights revolve around diaper changes, not dinners at Nobu.

And therein lies the conflict within Micky, as embodied by his two office buddies: entertainment reporter and office philanderer Jake Berman (Jake Weber) and fellow newshound and devoted, monogamous husband Doug Nelson (Taylor Nichols). Part of Mickey longs to take Jake's advice and surrender to his libido, but he also wants to do "right" by his wife Donna (Sonya Walger), à la Doug.

The dilemma looms large in the series' first three episodes: Micky hires an attractive assistant (Ivana Milisevic), and then fires her because he's having fantasies about her; he then encourages Donna to try to strike up a friendship with her, then makes her cancel her lunch plans because he doesn't feel comfortable with the idea. There's also a bit in which he's forced to confront his wife's desire for a second child (he doesn't want one).

The show is well written and the dialogue mostly sharp, save for one scene in which the three principals discuss the merits of Jake's computer "repairwoman." There's one flaw, though: Over the first three episodes, it lives up to its title a little too well: its female characters are pretty much cardboard cutouts.

Hopefully, as the season progresses, the series will develop its female characters to show that they also have minds.

The Mind of the Married Man
bows Tuesday, Sept. 11 at 10 p.m. on HBO.

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