By peoplestaff225
July 09, 1998 12:00 AM

Michael Richards’s troubled new NBC sitcom, “The Michael Richards Show,” hadn’t even debuted last night and already the star found the need to defend it. “This is a beginning,” Richards, 51, told The Washington Post before the show’s premiere last night. The critics universally panned it. Admitted Richards, “I don’t want viewers to look at the beginning as perfect. I think we’ve got a show here. We just need time to work it out.” How patient NBC — and the viewing public — will be remains to be seen. Richards, forever Perma-Plaqued in the pop culture hall of fame for his role as Kramer on “Seinfeld,” is already looking beyond this new show, which had its original pilot episode shelved and a replacement pilot scheduled to run next week rather than serve as last night’s debut episode. “If it doesn’t go, it doesn’t matter,” says the star. “There’ll be other projects. I’ll lay low and take a nice vacation. And then we’ll begin somewhere else.”