Considering TV director James Burrow’s track record of “Will & Grace,” “Frasier” and “Cheers,” he clearly knows a good premise for a television series when he sees one. So he probably should have known better when he decided to take the reins for the new CBS series “Mike & Molly.” There are likeable characters in protagonists Molly (Melissa McCarthy, “The Back-up Plan”) and Mike (Billy Gardell, “My Name Is Earl”), but here they’re the butts of a running joke that gets not only redundant, but borderline offensive.

“Mike & Molly”

Mondays at 9:30 p.m.
CBS

“Mike & Molly” is the story of two overweight people who begin a relationship together after meeting at an Overeaters Anonymous function. Mike is a Chicago police officer, and Molly an elementary school teacher. Molly is surrounded by her well meaning, doting mother (Swoosie Kurtz, “The Rules of Attraction”) and slimmer, pot-smoking sister Victoria (Katy Mixon, “Eastbound & Down”). “Mike & Molly” is not lacking any acting talent; what it is lacking is a joke that’s not repeated every 30 seconds.

The premise centers entirely around Mike and Molly’s obvious problems with being overweight. Situations include Mike accidentally causing a folding table to break and Molly being frustrated with her mother eating a ridiculously large piece of cake right in front of her. Even Mike’s partner Carl (Reno Wilson, “Crank: High Voltage”) can’t seem to avoid taking a few cracks at his weight problems. Other topics for jokes are few and far between. They’re overweight. We get it.

One of the only things that could make this show harder to watch would be if Mike and Molly actually let the barbs get to them. Thankfully, after only the first episode, it’s clear that they aren’t self-loathing, or the type of people who will sit on the sidelines their whole lives. Though their characters are trying to lose weight, they are content with who they are. Given the quantity of fat jokes that fly every which way in the pilot, it was quite the relief to see that Mike and Molly are able to dust themselves off and continue their pursuit to look thinner and better.

The one character who doesn’t give into the fat joke trend is Veronica. Out of the supporting cast, she is the only character who can go more than 30 seconds without uttering a weight-related crack, and she comically brings about her own flaws to provide another sense of relief. After all, she’s an avid pot smoker and only went to Molly’s OA meeting with her to help “get her laid.”

Despite Veronica’s strengths, however, “Mike and Molly” is still overstuffed with jokes on what can be a very sensitive issue to some people. The writers need to take a strong look into cutting back on their current modus operandi, or the show’s very theme may be its undoing.

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