Alyssa Milano returns to prime time in 'Romantically Challenged'

The list of flaws plaguing the new ABC sitcom "Romantically Challenged" begins with its premise and builds from there.

Alyssa Milano plays Rebecca Thomas, the show's lead character. She's a recently divorced mom who is just now "putting herself out there" and struggling to make sense of the dating game.

Stop right there. We're talking about Alyssa Milano. The stunningly beautiful Alyssa Milano. And she's supposed to be "romantically challenged"? Sorry, we're not buying it. Not for a minute.

That premise, unfortunately, is the funniest thing about this run-of-the-mill show, which serves up only lukewarm laughs and feels derivative throughout.

In Monday night's opener, Rebecca is contemplating having a one-night stand with a guy she just met in a cafe. But she's never done such a thing, so, of course, she gets plenty of coaching from her single-people posse, played by Kyle Bornheimer, Josh Lawson and Kelly Stables. There are the perfunctory jokes about dating — including a running gag about prison sex that runs on for too long. In most cases, you can see the punch lines coming from a mile away.

The engaging Milano has displayed a crafty skill for landing in successful shows over the years ("Who's the Boss?," "Charmed," "Melrose Place"), but this ABC project feels more like a late-season afterthought than a durable good.

And speaking of ABC, we're disappointed. In a season that saw the network deliver offbeat and original comedies like "Modern Family" and "Cougar Town," this represents a step backward. Then again, maybe those two shows are big-time flukes.

Now you know

'romantically challenged'

The ABC sitcom premieres at 8:30 p.m. Monday on KAKE, Channel 10.