IFC continues to play the comedy equivalent of small ball, picking up shows that look inexpensive and have the feel of being someone else’s leftovers. Two new ones arrive in tandem, with “Benders” proving that Denis Leary keeps finding ways to repurpose parts of “Rescue Me,” while David Krumholtz dons makeup to play a 76-year-old potty-mouthed granny in “Gigi Does It,” which, once the novelty wears off, shouldn’t do it for almost anyone. Although both shows have an off-kilter vibe in keeping with the network’s “Always On, Slightly Off” slogan, after a few minutes, “Turn It Off” is the preferred option.
Created by Leary’s partners Jim Serpico and Tom Sellitti, “Benders” apes the tone and even material from “Rescue Me,” which also featured its macho firefighters blowing off steam playing hockey. Moreover, Leary and company employed roughly the same formula with “Sirens,” which focused on the dark humor that surrounds being a paramedic, and ran for a couple of seasons on USA.
Here, the show revolves around a group of guys connected by their team, the Chubbys, who engage in a lot of teasing banter and hijinks both on and off the ice. The gang includes Paul (Andrew Schulz), who’s married to the tolerant Karen (Lindsey Broad); Anthony (Chris Distefano), the resident ladies man; and Dicky (Mark Gessner), a hedge fund manager who likes throwing money at things.
Despite the occasional funny line or absurd situation — such as Paul’s grandfather wanting his help in euthanizing him in the premiere — the show feels completely disposable, like a hoped-for companion to “The League” that FX wouldn’t even pick up for FXX. Inevitably, a later episode features the Chubbys enlisting a female goalie, who of course is distractingly beautiful.
The “disposable” label also applies to “Gigi” (originally titled “Gigi’s Bucket List”), which is built around the conceit that its widowed title character has inherited more than $6 million from her cheapskate of a husband, enabling her to hire a nurse/companion played by Ricky Mabe. Not surprisingly, Krumholtz originated the character on the Web, and it has more of a bite-sized taste than a series flavor, even with guest stars like Peter MacNicol and Lesley Ann Warren showing up to serve as Gigi’s foils.
Mostly, the whole horny, inappropriate Granny bit — which, in Gigi’s travels around Boca Raton, includes admiring a nude male model and making clear that part of him, anyway, doesn’t look Jewish — is just so played out. No offense, guys, but Tyler Perry wants that part of his act back. (Gigi poses nude as well, by the way, which, even with key parts obscured, warrants a shout-out to the special-effects makeup squad.)
Granted, there’s some trial and error as a network seeks to find its niche, and IFC is operating with relatively modest resources. Still, after a forgettable duo like “Benders” and “Gigi,” this is one situation where nobody should be hoping for a hat trick.