Based on Justin Halpern's book I Suck At Girls, HBO's new comedy Surviving Jack stars Christopher Meloni as a guy left in charge of his teenage kids Frankie and Rachel after his wife enrols in law school.

Surviving JackSurviving Jack Premieres on Fox Tonight

Set in 1990s Southern California, Meloni plays Jack Dunlevy, an ex-military man and no-nonsense guy who - surprise, surprise - takes an unorthodox approach to keeping his children in line. 

The show is written by Halpern and 'Cougar Town' scribe Patrick Schumacker and has been received pretty well by critics.

"Surviving Jack--based on Justin Halpern's memoir I Suck at Girls--distinguishes itself with a terrific turn by Christopher Meloni as the father and a refreshing treatment of gender roles," said Jeff Jensen of Entertainment Weekly.

"Forget the kids: I could happily watch Meloni and Harris banter and flirt for a half-hour a week," said Ellen Grey of the Philadelphia Daily News.

"Warm - or more accurately, lukewarm--moments intercede before the final bells in both half-hours. And Meloni delivers them like a champ while also dominating during an American Gladiators face-off that jump-starts next week's episode," wrote Ed Bark of Uncle Barky.

Christopher Meloni Surviving JackChristopher Meloni [L] and Connor Buckley [R] Star in 'Surviving Jack'

"While the first two episodes of Surviving Jack available for review didn't offer an avalanche of laugh-out-loud moments, there is a free-spirited realness to it that makes the show worth sticking with to see Meloni whip it into shape," wrote Sarah Rodman of the Boston Globe.

"Jack has an excellent cast.... Maybe the writing will catch up with them," said Tom Gliatto of People magazine.

"I'm going retro with my career," Meloni joked of the 90s set comedy, "Maybe there's a certain yearning to take it back to simpler times, I don't know. As soon as you walk into a room that doesn't have a freakin' computer or a child with their nose buried in their phone or iPad, you're like, gosh, these oldies. It's an interesting time and place to be-before cell phones, before all this interconnectedness."

Surviving Jack premieres on Fox on Thursday (March 27, 2014). 

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Watch Christopher Meloni fooling around at the New York City ballet: