* 1600 PENN. 9:30 p.m. Monday, NBC 10. Returns at 9:30 p.m. Thursdays on Jan. 10.
A "SNEAK preview" behind "The Voice" may have seemed like the best holiday gift NBC could give its newest sitcom, but I'm not sure delivering a large audience to the doorstep of "1600 Penn" is doing it any favors.
The set-in-the-White House comedy starts off more annoying than funny in its Monday debut, overwhelmed by a single character, first son Skip (Josh Gad), a perennial college student and first-class screwup. Over the next couple of episodes the show becomes a little less grating and, occasionally, mildly amusing.
Though Skip continues to be a bit much, even by the standards of oddball presidential relatives. Frankly, he's more Bo than Billy, an overgrown puppy of a character with a lot of hair.
By the time the series officially premieres Jan. 10, people who've seen the pilot may already have written it off and the rest will be wondering why a show like this is following "The Office."
The latest in an effort to broaden NBC's comedies beyond cult status - Emmys don't pay the bills, people! - "1600 Penn" doesn't have an ounce of subtlety. It also doesn't have a monkey, the way the already-canceled "Animal Practice" did. It doesn't have cute little babies and an ex-"Cosby" daughter, the way "Guys With Kids" does.
But it does have Bill Pullman as president of the United States, a role he's played before (though his "Independence Day" portrayal looked like a lot more fun). Jenna Elfman ("Dharma & Greg") plays the first lady, who doesn't like being called a trophy wife. She's stepmother to the president's four kids, three of whom barely seem to acknowledge her existence. Skip's the only one she's really connected with so far and for all I know it's because she walks him.
Particularly hostile: First daughter Becca (Martha MacIsaac, "Superbad"), whose perfect image is about to take a hit of the sort that in real life might lead to her getting her own Lifetime series.
But while "1600 Penn" probably doesn't remotely approach real life in the White House, next to the presidency portrayed in ABC's "Scandal" - a guilty pleasure for a growing number of us - it's practically a documentary.
XOXO, 'Gossip Girl'
There are guilty pleasures and there's just plain guilty.
"Gossip Girl" ends its six-season run Monday with a two-hour episode (8 p.m., CW 57) and I'll probably tune in.
If only to make sure it's really dead. And, of course, to learn the identity of the micro-blogger known as Gossip Girl, who's been voiced all these years by Kristin Bell ("Veronica Mars").
A show that began with upper-crust Manhattan high schoolers who acted as if they were in their 20s appears to be ending with twentysomethings who haven't left their adolescent issues behind.
There is no way I can justify having watched more than a few episodes at the beginning, but I'm afraid I did, gradually drawn in both by the grace of Blake Lively, who stars as Serena, and the utter absurdity of the plots, served up with just enough of a wink to make them palatable.
I did manage to quit cold turkey a couple of seasons back, only to be lured back for this fall's short final run. What had I missed? A lot. And yet not very much.
For reasons I've never fully understood, "Gossip Girl," while never the most popular show on the never very popular CW, came for a time to define it. Like so much of the programming aimed at teens, the show, based on a series of young-adult books, grew out of a publishing process that's the literary equivalent of factory farming.
We all love our stories. But it's probably better that this one is ending while I still have two brain cells to rub together.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, star of HBO's "Veep," is back on the cable network Monday with the 2011 film "Picture Paris" (9 p.m., HBO), in which she plays a suburban wife and mother who's long planned an extended stay in Paris with her husband as soon as their son's out of the house.
Written and directed by Louis-Dreyfus' husband Brad Hall, it's only about 30 minutes long and like any good short story, it's served with a twist.
On Twitter: @elgray