Bravo straddles the hybrid comedy/improv/unscripted realm a tad uncomfortably in “LOLwork,” a series the channel bills as a “doc-com,” but which essentially just resembles “The Office” without the benefit of a first-rate writing staff or actors. Set in a Seattle dot-com that specializes in quirky cat videos, ICanHasCheezburger, the show doesn’t feel authentic enough to be convincing, nor silly enough to rise to the level of worthwhile sitcom. Networks are to be forgiven for trying to engineer comedy on the cheap, but this foray into cat fancy proves neither fish now fowl.
The premiere goes about introducing the eccentric characters who work for the site under CEO Ben Huh and his wife, Emily. They then split into teams and set about the task of competing to devise the best video, which mostly plays like an excuse to incorporate a variety of animal footage, because how can you possibly go wrong with that?
At the same time, the characters say things that sound conspicuously scripted, such as site censor Will, who informs a colleague of critter protocol: “Sleeping is cute. Dead, not cute,” and later warns in regard to featuring more short-haired or hairless cats, “The less hair a cat has, the more likely you are to see its genitals.”
“LOLwork” is pretty transparent, too, down to the way the project is filmed and edited, to make it seem like the mock-doc sitcoms on sister network NBC as much as possible. As assembled, though, the stilted result feels as if everyone was trying too hard to please — and winds up devoid of any connection to reality.
Bravo is already developing scripted fare, and has dabbled in carefully staged reality soaps like “Miami Social.” By that measure, “LOLwork” represents a logical bridge into structured comedy, if not a particularly satisfying experiment on its own.
On the cuteness scale, that leaves the network (which will introduce the show behind a new season of “Top Chef,” also set in Seattle) with something closer to a dead cat than a sleeping one.