Misery Loves Company

Stephen King and Kathy Bates have nothing on this Fox sitcom. Based on viewings of a pilot episode that Fox publicity claims "does not accurately represent the show's current cast or new direction," it won't attract a crowd.

With:
Cast: Christopher Meloni, Dennis Boutsikaris, Julius Carry, Stephen Furst, Wesley Jonathan, Kathe Mazur, Kirsten Holmquist, Dennis Rodman.

Stephen King and Kathy Bates have nothing on this Fox sitcom. Based on viewings of a pilot episode that Fox publicity claims “does not accurately represent the show’s current cast or new direction,” it won’t attract a crowd.

The idea of a bunch of guys in their late 30s coping with life after divorce isn’t bad, but the execution isn’t sharp. And while the effort to feed off NFL audiences is logical, the smart money says football fans would rather see Pat Summerall and John Madden in their own sitcom.

Ensemble features two brothers (Dennis Boutsikaris and Christopher Meloni) sharing an apartment, and two of their buddies (Stephen Furst and Julius Carry) hanging out watching sports. The Boutsikaris character is a twitty advice addict experiencing withdrawal symptoms from a 12-year marriage. He drives his womanizing brother crazy with nagging.

Secondary storyline features NBA star Dennis Rodman as the new flame of one guy’s ex-wife. Rodman, a fairly controversial figure, is an odd choice for stunt casting in a pilot. In any event, he’s not used to maximum effect.

The challenge facing writers Rick Singer and Andrew Green is that this is pretty much virgin territory for a sitcom. But their script could have generated more — indeed some — humor. Sequences when the gang bonds watching sports on the tube are lame. Questions about sexual identity and gender roles are prominent, and there’s a strong homosexual subtext.

None of the actors elevates the material, and at least one performance doesn’t even do it justice. Nikki Deloach will join the cast in subsequent episodes. John Tracy’s direction is static. Tech credits are passable.

Prodction team led by Michael Jacobs might be able to fix “Misery Loves Company.” There’s certainly enough material to be had from premise. If they don’t start winning soon, however, it’ll be a shortened season.

Misery Loves Company

(Fox, Sun. Oct. 1, 9:30 p.m.)

Production: Taped in Burbank by Michael Jacobs Prods. Inc., in association with Touch-stone Television. Executive producer, Michael Jacobs; co-executive producer; Sandy Frank; producer, Mitchell Bank; co-producer, Charlie Kaufman; supervising producer, David Trainer; director, John Tracy; creators, Jacobs, Bob Young, Trainer; writers, Rick Singer, Andrew Green.

Crew: Camera, Walter Glover, editor, Marco Zappia; production designer; John C. Mula; sound, Richard Masci; music, Ray Colcord. 30 MIN.

Cast: Cast: Christopher Meloni, Dennis Boutsikaris, Julius Carry, Stephen Furst, Wesley Jonathan, Kathe Mazur, Kirsten Holmquist, Dennis Rodman.

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