Michael Mosley, Kevin Bigley, Kevin Daniels
Sound the alarm. Someone has a bad case of FX envy — and it isn't pretty. The smarmy and sophomoric Sirens, about three obnoxious Chicago paramedics, is USA Network's awkward attempt to branch out into the bawdy world of dark adult comedy (Thursday, 10/9). Confusing tastelessness and cheap profanity with actual humor, this misfire from executive producer Denis Leary feels like a series of limp outtakes from the more daring Rescue Me.
Michael Mosley, from the unfortunate final season of Scrubs, blandly stars as Johnny, the supposedly endearingly ringleader, who shares an ambulance with equally obnoxious gay buddy Hank (Kevin Daniels) and hopelessly dorky newbie Brian (Kevin Bigley). They talk a lot about porn and penis size — and, just as when a siren goes off on my block, my impulse was to cover my ears and wait for it to stop.
The night's other cable premieres also contribute to what feels like a death knell for original comedy. Over at FX, the selling-out (which began with Anger Management) continues, with another series built on the "10/90" assembly-line model. My hat's off to anyone who can sit through one, let alone 10 or 90, episodes of Saint George (9/8c), a moldy, tawdry vehicle for George Lopez. He's first shown sitting on a sofa on a Saturday night watching his energy-drink commercial — he's a successful Latino businessman with no personal life — when his vile trash-talking mother, who would have fit right in on Fox's Dads, berates him for being "fat, boring and stupid."
She left out pathetic. Because this George may not be a saint, but he's definitely a sad sack: moping over a beautiful Anglo ex-wife, resisting the grotesque advances of the lusty principal at the night school where he teaches, and reluctantly re-entering the dating game with two blustery buddies played by Dexter's David Zayas and movie heavy Danny Trejo, neither particularly well suited for comedy that involves gag-inducing gags about sexting and pepper spray. "What kind of Mexican are you?" Trejo taunts Lopez before they go on the prowl for hot dates. "You should have all kinds of kids showing up out of nowhere. With luggage." I had my bags packed by the first commercial break.
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Comedy Central weighs in with the peculiar Review (10/9c), in which everyman's a critic — this everyman being Forrest MacNeil (played by Andy Daly), a colorless milquetoast who fields requests to "review" life ("It's literally all we have") by experiencing the extremes. In the opening half-hour, he explores the ups and down of stealing, escalating from nervous shoplifter (of malted milk balls) to hapless bank robber. He moves on to the perils of addiction and ends by prowling high-school hallways for a prom date, where during the dance each of the storylines, such as they are, intersect. Forrest gives two of these pointless segments a one-half star rating, and that's being generous.
SUIT UP: In happier news, one of USA's more appealing dramas, Suits (9/8c), returns to finish out its third season on a very busy night, getting its sexy on as Harvey (Gabriel Macht) woos Scotty (Abigail Spencer) in bed as part of his hard sell to recruit her for the law firm, while Mike (Patrick J. Adams) and Rachel (Meghan Markle) consider playing house, despite his shabby furnishings. It's a busy hour, with guest-star Olympian Michael Phelps appearing as a potential client, suspense provided by the unctuous Louis (Rick Hoffman) snooping around Mike's falsified Harvard bona fides, and an earnest object lesson when Mike takes on a longtime nemesis in court, becoming the sort of lawyer he despises in the process. It's a glossy, satisfying mix of drama and humor, dressing up the USA Network formula with stylish polish.
AND KEEP IN MIND: Mary's mother, Marie de Guise, comes to court on The CW's Reign (9/8c), and she's played by Amy Brenneman (courtesy of being married to the executive producer). She has her own ideas about her daughter's royal prospects, which will no doubt put her at odds with the scheming Queen Catherine (Megan Follows) — if we're lucky. ... Did you hear about the non-fraternization policy announced at the end of last week's Grey's Anatomy (ABC, 9/8c)? Enforce that, and there's no show. ... Similarly, can you imagine CBS's The Big Bang Theory (8/9c) if Sheldon and Wolowitz actually got along? Which is why we're skeptical that a trip to Houston meant to bring them together as friends will have the desired effect. ... A fate worse than character death: Having recently been killed off of Nashville, Kimberly Williams-Paisley resurfaces as Alan's latest girlfriend on CBS's Two and a Half Men (9:01/8:01c). But for how long? ... Hope you didn't get too attached to Fox's Rake airing on Thursdays. After this week's episode (9/8c), which features Anthony Anderson as a buddy from Keegan's AA past, it moves to the dead zone of Fridays. ... Can anyone Beat Bobby Flay in the kitchen? Contestants will find out as they go chef-vs-famous chef in Food Network's eight-episode competition series (10/9c).
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