The Last Frontier

A professional gal named Kate (Jessica Tuck) is in town on a six-month assignment for a hotel conglomerate and rents the cottage behind their house. She's promptly dumped over the phone by her boyfriend in L.A. and is automatically ripe for the picking -- an event likely to be delayed until the end of summer at least. In the meantime, Billy is the leading contender to bed the new roomie.

With:
Cast: Anthony Starke, John Terlesky, Patrick Labyorteaux, David Kriegel, Jessica Tuck, Leigh-Allyn Baker, Renee Parent. Nothing in "The Last Frontier," a workaday summer sitcom from Fox, jumps out at you. The territory has been charted and there are no new horizons within range. Yet even though the pilot is long on energy and short on laughs, show should help pass the hot months and provide a decent lead-in to "L.A. Firefighters." Evidently the testosterone is flowing in Anchorage, Alaska. Three bachelors are looking for a roommate. Billy (Anthony Starke) is a good-natured architect and prototypical normal guy, Reed (John Terlesky) is an oversexed lug who owns an outdoor adventure company, and Andy (Patrick Labyorteaux) is a bizarre Air Force intelligence officer.

A professional gal named Kate (Jessica Tuck) is in town on a six-month assignment for a hotel conglomerate and rents the cottage behind their house. She’s promptly dumped over the phone by her boyfriend in L.A. and is automatically ripe for the picking — an event likely to be delayed until the end of summer at least. In the meantime, Billy is the leading contender to bed the new roomie.

Reed’s henpecked brother (David Kriegel) and his wife (Leigh-Allyn Baker) will be relied on for manic humor. They run the gang’s hangout, a brew pub.

Cast work their tails off. Handsome and identifiable, Starke foreshadows Michael J. Fox’s return to sitcoms in the fall. He’s a taller version with remarkably similar gestures. Tuck and Baker do good work, and Kriegel runs at full throttle. Terlesky’s character is a tough sell, while Labyorteaux’s Andy is the most original creation and a comedic wild card. He hacks away on his lap-top and regrets having been weaned.

Writer-creator David Zuckerman is too busy introducing the guys to give them many funny jokes. There are brief flashes of bright dialogue, but the burden of explication takes its toll. The humor peak is a well-timed belch from an inebriated Kate.

Director Arlene Sanford lines everyone up in the right place, but on a couple of occasions the camera gets there a tad late. Otherwise, timing and pace are fine. Production has a nice look. Handsomely decorated house, designed by Billy, is the ultimate bachelor pad or ski cabin. Exterior shots make it look so big that a guest cottage seems superfluous.

Without any stars, ensemble must pull hard and writers will have to supply extra provisions. Alaskan setting is waiting to be exploited.

The Last Frontier

Production: The Last Frontier (Mon. (3), 8:30-9 p.m., Fox) Filmed in Los Angeles by HBO Independent Prods. in association with 20th Century Fox Television. Executive producer, Howard Meyers; co-executive producer, David Zuckerman; supervising producer, Laurie Gelman; producers, Leo J. Clarke, Vic Kaplan; director, Arlene Sanford; writer, Zuckerman.

Crew: Camera, Richard Brown; editor, Bob Souders; production designer, Bruce Ryan; art director, Glenda Rovello; sound, Brentley Walton; music, David M. Matthews, Marc Ellis; casting, Lisa Miller.

With: Cast: Anthony Starke, John Terlesky, Patrick Labyorteaux, David Kriegel, Jessica Tuck, Leigh-Allyn Baker, Renee Parent. Nothing in "The Last Frontier," a workaday summer sitcom from Fox, jumps out at you. The territory has been charted and there are no new horizons within range. Yet even though the pilot is long on energy and short on laughs, show should help pass the hot months and provide a decent lead-in to "L.A. Firefighters." Evidently the testosterone is flowing in Anchorage, Alaska. Three bachelors are looking for a roommate. Billy (Anthony Starke) is a good-natured architect and prototypical normal guy, Reed (John Terlesky) is an oversexed lug who owns an outdoor adventure company, and Andy (Patrick Labyorteaux) is a bizarre Air Force intelligence officer.

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