TV critic

●“Partners” (Premieres at 8:30 p.m. on CBS)

“Will & Grace” makers David Kohan and Max Mutchnick return to lighthearted, quasi-socially progressive sitcom familiarity with a story loosely based on their own lifelong bromance — where one man is straight and the other’s gay. Joe (“Numb3rs’s” David Krumholtz, the straight one) and Louis (“Ugly Betty’s” Michael Urie, the gay one) own an architecture and design firm together and have been pals since they were bar-mitzvah nerds.

The message here — after a trip through CBS’s rinse cycle — is that such friendships are possible. Louis, whom Urie unfortunately plays as a grating, self-absorbed flibbertigibbet (faintly reminiscent of Jack from “Will & Grace”), meddles in the tentative romance between Joe and his soon-to-be fiancee (“One Tree Hill’s” Sophia Bush) and then must scramble around to patch it up. Brandon Routh (“Superman,” once) plays Louis’s hunky-dopey domestic partner.

Kohan and Mutchnick haven’t moved forward or backward since their “Will & Grace” days, which is perhaps why the show feels old before its time. They even added a Rosario-like stereotype in the pilot for batting practice — this time a chesty, fiery Latina secretary (Tracy Vilar), whose decolletage Louis bizarrely enjoys nuzzling in time of stress. The tepid laughs here are already in need of a jolt, as “Partners” cries out for its Karen. Grade: C+

Hank Stuever