Friday, April 3, 2015

Pilot Review: Weird Loners

Weird Loners (FOX)
Premiered March 31 at 9:30pm

A title like “Weird Loners” doesn’t exactly set the bar very high. But that’s precisely what this new sitcom is about – four underachievers who, for the most part, should be successful and could well be if they didn’t insist on refusing to succumb to societal norms and do something with their lives. There are obviously different degrees of social aptitude, as both Becki Newton’s Caryn and Zachary Knighton’s Stosh could function in a social setting and Nate Torrence’s Eric and Meera Rohit Kumbhani’s Zara don’t seem as capable of carrying on a normal conversation for more than a moment. These are the freaks and geeks, the outcasts, the misfits – people you’ve seen on television before who reluctantly accept their place in life and aren’t about to do anything to change it. That’s all fine and good, but this show shouldn’t be under the illusion that it’s reinventing the wheel. There is nothing particularly original about it, and it’s not all that funny. The first and only time I laughed in the pilot was midway through Eric’s poor lip-reading when he botched every single word, and there were almost twenty minutes of actual content before that, which is hardly an inspiring statistic. I loved Newton in “Ugly Betty” and even in “Love Bites,” and while she’s easily the best one in this cast, I wish it was a better part. Knighton, just the latest member of the beloved “Happy Endings” ensemble to try to find a suitable follow-up show, is outright annoying, and I preferred him in his far more subdued roles on “Parenthood” and “Flash Forward.” Torrence was a fun part of “Hello Ladies,” and it’s clear that he’s taken the manic antics up a notch rather than down, and I don’t think that’s a good thing. Kumbhani is the new face, and while she seems somewhat comically talented, I worry that her character is just too random to be taken seriously. This show does achieve the vibe it’s going for, but I’m not impressed with this initial outing and its prospects.

How will it work as a series? Suddenly four loners of sorts have been paired up into gendered roommates and gender-mixed budding couples, and so their interactions should provide plenty of fodder for comedy and typical sitcom storylines. Moving away from what brought them together and tracking their development into slightly more bearable people is probably the way this show needs to go.

How long will it last? There are puns aplenty about these loners not making friends in the debut airing of their show, and that’s not promising. FOX has a reliable block of comedies performing well at the moment and dramas launching strongly, and there’s no reason to keep a show like this around if it just doesn’t get watched by the same numbers. I’m not even sure I’d expect it to stay on through the end of the season.

Pilot grade: C

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