Only on television can 30-year-old men float through life on a diet of snack foods, hockey and “SportsCenter” while hanging with guys named Weasel. Call it Peter Puck Syndrome. You will find it on display in all its slacker glory in this incessantly dopey and self-indulgent sitcom starring, and co-produced by, actor-playwright Mike O’Malley. You know a debuting show is already in trouble when the most impressive credit on the main star’s resume is having portrayed the interstitial role of “The Rick” in ESPN on-air promos. To NBC, this evidently seemed like a sufficiently rich body of work to merit a primetime order.
Nevertheless, it seems NBC is intent on counterprogramming ABC’s critical smash “Sports Night” with a comedy about the life of a hockey nut. Ooh, good idea. Of course, “Mike O’Malley” also faces a volley of time period slapshots from the likes of “60 Minutes II,” “Party of Five” and the WB’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” spinoff “Angel.” This makes “O’Malley” the odds-on freshman favorite to be the first show benched for low-schticking.
Well-meaning and innocuous though it may be, “Mike O’Malley” is as hackneyed and uninspired as sitcoms get. Gee, guys who are living the frat-boy lifestyle to avoid growing up. Where do they come up with this stuff?
Here, O’Malley plays a character who is named — with a flourish of creativity — Mike O’Malley. His world is torn asunder in the pilot when his best pal Jimmy (Will Arnett) marries girlfriend Marcia (Kate Walsh). Yow! Commitment! This freaks out Mike so completely that he turns and starts addressing the camera directly. He may need an NHL doubleheader on the tube to overcome this one.
While serving as best man at the wedding, Mike sees the immature error of his ways and makes awkward attempts to reconcile with his ex-girlfriend Shawna (Missy Yager). Suddenly, the opening storyline, co-penned by O’Malley and fellow exec producer Les Firestein, shifts gears, in hopes that the audience will now take O’Malley seriously. He’s still living with the slovenly Weasel (Mark Rosenthal), and now he expects romantic understanding? Sorry, hockey boy.
Second installment continues to flail away in its attempts to locate a voice, but the chemistry and tone are way off. As a result, “The Mike O’Malley Show” is unlikely to register on the comedy scale.
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