Returning for another sitcom that features his first name in the title, George Lopez and everyone else, including the producers of “Home Improvement,” sleepwalks through “Saint George,” a numbingly awful multicamera sitcom that plays like something conjured in a lab once the presumably magical ingredient “George Lopez” was acquired. There’s obviously a business model in the 10-90 approach to comedy development – otherwise FX and distributor Debmar-Mercury/Lionsgate TV wouldn’t keep doing it. But they have once again put the deal ahead of the show, conjuring 21 minutes of rim shots that felt about three times that long, viewing-wise.
Like Charlie Sheen before him, Lopez must need the gig, but there’s virtually no other reason why he’d bank the equity built up with loyal fans on such a slapdash product. Why “Improvement’s” Matt Williams and David McFadzean would get involved is equally confounding, but the show is rather surprisingly naughty – an indication, perhaps, of the desperation to find anything funny around this premise and these characters.
Lopez plays a successful businessman (he markets a sports energy drink) who is raising a young son along with his seemingly always-around ex-wife (Jenn Lyon). She, like George’s mother (Olga Merediz), delights in insulting him, although the put-downs are stunningly on the nose, such as mom calling him “fat, boring and stupid.” (Lopez actually looks pretty trim, but it’s hard to argue with the other points as packaged here.)
The other key players are George’s cousin (“Dexter’s” David Zayas) and uncle (Danny Trejo, of every tough-guy role imaginable), who in the premiere drag him to a bar to try reentering the dating world. Never mind that an actual 21st-century guy like George would probably go online for such a mission, this is a sitcom firmly rooted in the 1980s, including the man-hungry assistant principal (Diana Maria Riva) who works in the school where George moonlights as a teacher, presumably to prevent any possible demographic stone from being unturned.
Under the 10/90 structure, if the first batch of episodes meet certain ratings criteria, the network commits to bring the show to 100 – once the magic number for syndication. While it’s hard to fault “Saint George” for aiming at a potentially fat payoff by resorting to a low common denominator, there’s still something oddly numbing about a project that goes about being bad so cynically, and in the process muddies the edgy brand FX has labored to build.
By that measure, “Saint George” isn’t so much a new show as simply a repackaging of Lopez’s ABC sitcom with a new modifier. It might work well enough to merit the full run, but grading strictly in terms of comedy, there aren’t enough laughs here to overpower a kitten, much less slay a dragon.