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TV Review: ‘Weird Loners’

With:
Becki Newton, Zachary Knighton, Nate Torrence, Meera Rohit Kumbhani, Susie Essman

If only “Weird Loners” were anywhere near as interesting as its title. Instead, this latest Fox comedy falls into that middle realm of nothing special, featuring a quartet of quirky characters, all in their mid-30s, each of whom remains single for his or her own reasons. Still, delaying marriage isn’t as shocking as it once was, just as these kinds of self-absorbed characters don’t exactly break fresh ground. Fox has enjoyed some recent successes — generating sampling of “The Last Man on Earth” — but there’s nothing here that can’t be seen executed significantly better (and every bit as timely) in any random “Seinfeld” rerun.

Indeed, after three episodes of the series, it’s still something of a struggle to come up with a clear description of it, other than to note that by the end of episode one, all four characters are living adjacent to each other in a Queens townhouse. There’s Caryn (“Ugly Betty’s” Becki Newton), adopted by Jewish parents, who doesn’t want to settle for a boring dermatologist; Stosh (Zachary Knighton), whose playboy ways have cost him his job and condo; Eric (Nate Torrence), Stosh’s childlike cousin, who is newly alone because of his father’s death, offering the cash-strapped Stosh an opportunity to move in; and Zara (Meera Rohit Kumbhani), who takes up residence with Caryn.

Sex, not surprisingly, dominates the flirty banter between Caryn and Stosh, although there’s not much reason to care whether they hook up or not. Part of that has to do with the fact that each of the players, despite softer moments, is empathy-challenged.

A subsequent episode highlights the irritating nature of these interactions, with Caryn dreading a visit to see her dying grandmother, who wants her to settle down, as does Caryn’s mom (“Curb Your Enthusiasm’s” Susie Essman, largely squandered); Stosh exploiting the needy Eric; and Zara pretending to be psychic in order to let Eric have closure with his dad, only to have him abuse the privilege by refusing to let her break the connection.

Created by Michael J. Weithorn (“The King of Queens”), with a pilot directed by Jake Kasdan (who helped get “New Girl” off the ground), “Weird Loners” wants to conjure moments of sweetness, but would actually be truer to its tone if it didn’t try. As is, the series spends an inordinate amount of time concerned with matters below the belt — including Stosh’s complaint that with Eric hanging around, he won’t be able to “choke the sheriff” — and delivers less charm or laughs than something like “New Girl,” itself a show whose most “adorkable” days appear to be behind it. (As a footnote, Knighton will be competing with former “Happy Endings” castmate Elisha Cuthbert, who can found on NBC in the equally tedious “One Big Happy.”)

So while there’s a new sheriff on Fox’s Tuesday lineup, “Weird Loners” mostly just looks like another addition to the long list of ones that ended up in TV’s Boot Hill.

TV Review: 'Weird Loners'

(Series; Fox, Tues. March 31, 9:30 p.m.)

Production: Filmed in Los Angeles by Hanley Prods. and the Detective Agency in association with 20th Century Fox Television.

Crew: Executive producers, Michael Weithorn, Jake Kasdan, Melvin Mar; director, Kasdan; writer, Weithorn; camera, Uta Briesewitz; production designer, Michael Whetstone; editors, Steve Welch, Tia Nolan; music, Lyle Workman; casting, Leslie Litt. 30 MIN.

Cast: Becki Newton, Zachary Knighton, Nate Torrence, Meera Rohit Kumbhani, Susie Essman

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