Another exercise in slacker chic narrowly orchestrated for the under-30 set, this sprightly comedy from Victor Fresco certainly won’t wow anyone with its premise, focusing as it does on an 18-year-old with minimal ambition, his equally limp goofball friend and a peculiar blended family. Loaded with non sequiturs that prove occasionally amusing, think of it as “Dazed and Confused” minus the pot fumes. Not bad but as rudderless as its protagonists, the show will definitely need to ride “American Idol’s” wake to stay afloat.
Having previously produced Fox’s gone-but-not-forgotten “Andy Richter Controls the Universe,” Fresco enters the way-back machine and turns his attention to Laz (Zachary Knighton), who can’t even control his own room. Lacking direction, he finds his dad (Matt Glave) and hot stepmom (Amy Yasbeck) want to kick him out of the house, which also contains Laz’s socially awkward stepsister, Molly (Saige Thompson), and precocious-as-only-a-sitcom-kid-can-be half-brother, Gus (Frankie Ryan Manriquez), whom the parents shower with affection.
Laz and his pal Fred (Charlie Finn) take a job at the local mall working at Yippee, Hot Dogs, where the indignities of their tyrannical boss, Mr. Hut (Maz Jobrani), are compensated for by the darling Lily (Rachelle Lefevre), who Laz quickly sets about wooing.
Unfortunately, everyone seems to speak with roughly the same detached, wry voice, like Laz telling surly teen Molly that their parents will “regret the day they decided to love you unconditionally,” or Fred musing, “I’m starting to think I might be a coward.” Clever stuff, but there’s no sense of reality behind these characters other than serving as a vessel to deliver the lines.
Granted, it’s hard not to chuckle at a riff that runs through the premiere about gleaning life lessons from “Spartacus,” as Laz tries to lead sleepy co-workers in revolt against Mr. Hut (whose Arab-sounding accent, rather refreshingly, goes unmentioned).
Still, thus far Fresco’s coming-of-age story doesn’t appear to be doing much coming or, for that matter, going. Laz likes Lily. Lily likes Laz. Laz and Fred hang out, and the kids both resent their overmatched parents, who sneak off for sexual trysts in the garage.
Add it all up, and it’s going to be challenging to concoct enough humor about dead-end jobs to prevent “Life on a Stick” (a not particularly illuminating reference to Yippee’s deep-fried ‘dogs) from feeling like a dead-end comedy.
In fact, if Laz and Fred were home eating a pizza and this show came on, they’d probably watch numbly for awhile, maybe chuckle once or twice, then get bored and pop in that DVD of “Spartacus.”