Review: ‘Off Centre’

Another twentysomething comedy stocked with nary a laugh, "Off Centre" is off color, off the mark and, hopefully, off the fall schedule in a few weeks. The WB apparently thought that exec producers Chris and Paul Weitz, who have earned a bundle with their gross-out shenanigans via the "American Pie" franchise, were perfect for primetime.

Another twentysomething comedy stocked with nary a laugh, “Off Centre” is off color, off the mark and, hopefully, off the fall schedule in a few weeks. The WB apparently thought that exec producers Chris and Paul Weitz, who have earned a bundle with their gross-out shenanigans via the “American Pie” franchise, were perfect for primetime — and given the current state of laffers, who would have argued? But try as it might to be tawdry, randy and an ode to horny frat boys, this show commits the biggest sin of all: It’s not funny.

British playboy Euan (Sean Maguire) is a hyperactive investment banker whose accent makes him irresistible to the ladies. Best friend Mike (Eddie Kaye Thomas) — they went to Oxford — is a reserved dweeb who works for a non-profit org and has relationship issues with girlfriend Liz (Lauren Stamile).

Show simply revolves around the buddies’ lives as New York bachelors (title refers to the upper-crust Hadley on Centre complex where they live). Euan is constantly on the prowl (“One of the four girls I slept with last week was a real slut,” Euan says in a later episode) and Mike is permanently toting around a heavy case of jealousy; Liz is pretty, smart and sociable enough, but he’d rather be “in the market.”

While the pilot is just plain boring — Euan invites Liz to move in, much to Mike’s surprise — all one needs to know is that one half-hour is about crabs. In a plotline that seems to have been lifted from a 1950s sex-ed textbook, the guys have ’em, the gals have ’em and everybody takes part in one big itch-fest. (There’s actually one moment in which Euan and Mike stand around while scratching their genitals.) Is this really the best that DreamWorks’ TV arm and the frog net can do?

There’s no sophistication in “Off Centre,” especially since the Weitz brothers utilize their locker room humor in heavy doses. But while the “Pie” cast — which included Thomas — was sweet, and the coming-of-age pics have become a guilty pleasure for even educated auds, this dreck is a misogynistic mess in which the point is to “score” at any cost (even venereal disease). The scripts are full of basic guy-guy formula stuff, and there is certainly no explanation as to why two dudes smart enough to attend Oxford would act so imbecilic and immature.

Standard direction isn’t helped much by a glaring unreality; Euan and Mike live in an apartment that not even Leona Helmsley would be able to afford, let alone two dinks who recently graduated.

Off Centre

The WB; Sun., Oct. 14, 9:30 p.m.

Production

Filmed in Los Angeles by DreamWorks Television in association with Warner Bros. Television. Executive producers, Chris Weitz, Paul Weitz, Danny Zuker; co-exec producer, Warren Bell; producer, Franco E. Bario; director, Mark Cendrowski; writers, Mike Barker, Matt Weitzman.

Crew

Camera, Tony Yarlett; editor, Danny White; art director, Jay Pellissier; music, Ben Vaughn; casting, Joseph Middelton. 30 MIN.

Cast

Mike - Eddie Kaye Thomas
Euan - Sean Maguire
Liz - Lauren Stamile
Chau - John Cho
Status Quo - Jason George
With: Joie Lenz, Alicia Rickter

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