When affixed to a show this hackneyed, the title “Do Not Disturb” invites cheap jokes along the lines of not disturbing your weekly schedule, the muscles that control laughter or, if this keeps up, funeral arrangements for the sitcom format. Sex-obsessed in a 1970s way except for the token gay guy, this workplace comedy continues a fetid stretch for Fox half-hours that have repeatedly squandered the promotional blessings “American Idol” provides. For comedy scribes and those who love them, be disturbed. Be very disturbed.
Built around the staff of a Manhattan hotel called the Inn (although, in what may foretell Nielsen occupancy rates, no actual guests are shown), the premiere leaps right into a sexual-harassment seminar, ostensibly because manager Neal (Jerry O’Connell) hits on every female who moves. For this, he’s chided by human-resources chief Rhonda (“Reno 911’s” Niecy Nash), who — the sex talk having opened the door — immediately begins a torrid, sneak-down-to-the-storage-room tryst with a security guard.
Meanwhile, ditsy Nicole (Molly Stanton) wants to continue pursuing a modeling career, with the improbable help of heavy-set Molly (Jolene Purdy); and Larry (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) worries that having a steady boyfriend has robbed him of the ability to flirt.
Is it express checkout time yet?
Created by Abraham Higginbotham, the tedious setup thwarts the energetic efforts of a seasoned cast led by Nash and O’Connell, who barely had time to shake off the exhaust from “Carpoolers” before boarding this misguided vehicle.
It’s as if the producers and director Jason Bateman were hoping that loud, trite and abrasive would mask just how tired the concept is. The pilot is so hurried and slapdash, it’s hard to discern even what jobs the staff members do or the kind of hotel that employs them — not that there’s much incentive to sort that out.
OK, so “Arrested Development” (which is on Higginbotham’s resume) was too smart for the room. That hardly explains or excuses Fox’s overreaction in trotting out a subsequent string of comedies — including “Disturb’s” lead-in, the seemingly indestructible “‘Til Death” — that practically come equipped with audience training wheels.
Broad isn’t automatically bad, of course, but broad and woefully unfunny are a pretty deadly combination. Whatever the underlying strategy, “Do Not Disturb” has the jumbled look and unsavory feel of an unmade motel bed.