No one enjoys visiting a strip mall. The scourge of the suburban landscape, they specialize in mundane, easy-in, easy-out transactions — except in the wacky Valley collection of shops known as Plaza Del Toro, where behind-the-counter shenanigans are the hottest commodity. ‘Strip Mall,” judging from the first two episodes, is on its way to being the scourge of cable TV with sophomoric writing, acting and presentation.
Julie Brown, who screeched her way onto MTV in the ’80s with the tale of an armed homecoming queen, is the same over-the-top, busty redhead, only now she’s plotting her way out of a dead-end waitress job in a bar. Tammi Tyler (Brown) was a child star who stabbed her adult co-star to death, ending any hopes of an extended career in showbiz.
She decides to marry the next man with money who walks through the door — and of course it’s the big, fat and sweaty neighbor from the dry cleaner, Harvey Krudup (Jim O’Heir).
Krudup craves sex; she wants nothing more than to take out an insurance policy on the big lug, have him killed and collect the cash. Her beefcake ex-boyfriend Blunt (Bob Koherr) is put in charge of the dastardly deed, and it all goes awry; eventually she will hook up with his two identical brothers Blank and Blair.
Between the bar and the dry cleaner are vignettes featuring two lesbians who run a Chinese restaurant, a gift basket store that makes no sales, an elf figurines shop and an insurance agency.
The only laughs emerge from We Shoot You Video, which offers wedding services in the front and tapes pornos in the back. Owner Sergei Solokov (Gregory Itzin) has lost his director to a taco commercial, which is deliciously pornographic, and finds himself surrounded by desperate talent. Eventually, however, the porn humor gets as obvious as the lesbian jokes.
Technically, the series lacks any sort of creativity, and director Alan Cohn seemingly relishes bad performances. It’s edited at a snappy pace to make sure the show doesn’t stay in any store for too long, but those thankful exits can’t come quickly enough.
One treat: Christopher Tying has composed a fun ditty for the end credits that’s a far better tune than “Strip Mall” is a show.