'Men at Work'

Even with a game, mostly appealing cast, the pilot provides scant incentive to invest in a weekly subscription.

The sitcom equivalent of empty calories, “Men at Work” really ought to be titled “Juvenile Guys at Play,” for all the time the central quartet of sex-obsessed dudes spend at the Manhattan magazine (or as the kids will say, “The what?”) where they ostensibly work. Created by actor Breckin Meyer, the easygoing pilot yields a few grudging smirks, all of the “I can’t believe you had sex with my cleaning lady” variety. Yet even with a game, mostly appealing cast, the pilot provides scant incentive to invest in a weekly subscription.

Actually, viewers might have to watch “Men” twice just to ascertain the flimsy work connection, since the pilot deals almost entirely with below-the-belt, not-safe-for-work (and barely suitable for watching) exchanges.

Milo (Danny Masterson) has just been dumped by his girlfriend, triggering the inevitable outpouring of sympathy and “get back on the horse” prodding from his pals Gibbs (James Lesure), Tyler (Michael Cassidy) and Neal (Adam Busch), whose own subplot hinges on his inability to convincingly talk dirty to his girlfriend (Meredith Hagner).

Lesure (“Las Vegas”) is the photographer/resident ladies man, and thus utterly mystified when Tyler expresses dismay about him seducing the housekeeper when he dropped by his apartment. “I don’t understand the question,” he deadpans.

Nothing here is offensive, particularly, unless you happen to object to the vacuousness of the female characters — as filtered through the guys’ interaction, there strictly to be bedded and pined over.

Mostly, though, there’s just nothing terribly distinctive about “Men at Work,” so much so it’s almost impossible to imagine how the pitch went without these actors to instill its tired one-liners with some modest zing. Granted, TBS has spoken of catering to a “popcorn” mentality, and this could charitably be seen as that — a younger version of “Seinfeld,” given all the time they spend in a local diner, if you were to tinker with the cast, then expunge most of the laughs. The network is also benefiting from “The Big Bang Theory” reruns, which should assist in promoting its original (or in this case, not-so-original) programming efforts.

“I don’t believe how many times you guys just said the word bang,” Milo quips, while observing Tyler and Gibbs’ cleaning-lady-etiquette argument.

It’s a fair point, especially considering how little bang the premiere generates from these bucks. Still, given the show’s lack of pretense and modest aspirations, subjecting “Men at Work” to further abuse would be a clear case of overkill.

Men at Work

TBS, Thurs. May 24, 10 p.m.

Production

Filmed in Los Angeles by Monkey Shoe and Fanfare in association with Sony Pictures Television. Executive producers, Breckin Meyer, Jamie Tarses, Julia Franz, Michael Davidoff, Bill Rosenthal; co-executive producer, Annette Sahakian Davis; director, Mark Cendrowski; writer, Meyer.

Crew

Camera, John Simmons; production designer, Greg Grande; editor, Andy Zall; music, John Swihart; casting, Zane/Pillsbury. 30 MIN.

Cast

Milo - Danny Masterson
Tyler - Michael Cassidy
Neal - Adam Busch
Gibbs - James Lesure

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