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Living With Fran

Review: 1 1/2 stars (Out of 4)

First, Kirstie Alley decided to parody her real-life weight issues in the Showtime comedy, "Fat Actress."

Now it is Fran Drescher's turn to embarrass herself. She stars in an annoying, one-joke WB comedy, "Living with Fran" (8:30 and 9:30 p.m Friday, WNYO-TV), that reportedly was partly inspired by a romance with a man 16 years her junior.

In the series, the nasal-voiced former star of "The Nanny" is a fortysomething divorcee living with a tall, muscle-bound stud who was barely out of middle school when her CBS series ran. He's 26.

The arrangement isn't amusing to Fran's 21-year-old son, Josh (Ben Feldman). He thought he was coming home for some motherly love after being tossed out of medical school. He was even willing to endure the sarcasm from his 15-year-old sister, Allison (Misti Traya).

Instead, Josh discovers someone is living in his closet (it isn't Tom Poston) and his mother is living her second childhood. She is dating a guy, Riley (Ryan McPartlin), who could be his older brother and could eventually become his stepfather.

Anyone following the Ashton Kutcher-Demi Moore romance realizes the premise isn't farfetched. A young stud on an older woman's arm is as common in Hollywood as Botox injections these days.

Not that anything is wrong with that. Like "Fat Actress," the problem with "Living with Fran" is how limiting the premise can be. Alley's series is loaded with fat jokes, Drescher's with predictable age jokes.

Additionally, there are those awkward moments between mother and son when sex is the main topic. You don't know whether to laugh or wince when Fran tells her son: "I'll have you know I'm at my sexual peak."

"I'll say," replies Riley, a k a the "Goy Toy."

Other than sex and status with her girlfriends, the reasons for this couple being together is unfathomable. Life with Riley means Fran will have to ignore the fact that Riley thinks Josh is talking about a family friend when her son derisively tells his mom, "Here's to you, Mrs. Robinson."

But near the end there is one of those typical, warm sitcom moments when Riley tries to explain his feelings for Fran to her son.

"Her voice is the last thing at night and the first thing I want to hear in the morning," explains Riley.

"Her voice?" asks Josh.

"I know, that's how crazy I am about her," replies Riley.

The syrupy speech doesn't quite redeem the oversexed pilot. Slightly more promising is Friday's second episode, "Riley's Parents." In it, Fran explains to Riley's mom (Marilu Henner) and dad (John Schneider) how she reluctantly gave in to their son's advances.

The sweet story suggests that the series may eventually focus as much on the heart as it does on other parts of the anatomy. To be fair, the pilot of WB's one comedy hit, "Reba," also was oversexed. If the sexual jokes have already peaked, I'm afraid we may have to live with Fran's voice for another few years.