Just to prove there ought to be moratorium on sitcoms in which stars play themselves, two arrive the same week. TV Land’s George Lopez vehicle, “Lopez,” has the better platform, but is actually less interesting (and funny) than “Hoff the Record,” a British import built around David Hasselhoff, which lands on Mark Cuban’s “Do I even get that?” channel, AXS TV. And if that’s not enough, stay tuned, since Showtime’s “Dice,” featuring Andrew Dice Clay, is just around the corner.
Both “Lopez” and the six-episode “Hoff” spoof their respective stars’ image, but the latter is more pointed — at times uncomfortably so — in lampooning Hasselhoff, the premise being that he decamps for the U.K. seeking change and desperate for money, having pretty well exhausted all of his avenues in the U.S. Indignity upon indignity follow over the course of six episodes, with his U.K. manager Max (Fergus Craig) lining up an “I’m Not There”-type biopic, in which Hasselhoff isn’t even deemed worthy to play himself; and later traveling to a country called Tergistan to perform at the birthday party of an insane warlord.
Hasselhoff certainly wins points for being a good sport, but most of the laughs emanate from those around him, in a series that offers the tone, if not quite the quality, of Ricky Gervais’ “Extras.” That said, it’s hard not to chuckle when Hasselhoff has to flee a dangerous situation, in a later episode, by escaping in the “Knight Rider” car, complete with appropriate musical accompaniment; or, thanks to a misunderstanding in the finale, is thought to have abducted a child.
At the least “Hoff the Record” has an edge to it — at one point Hasselhoff says, “I saved more people on ‘Baywatch’ than Schindler saved in World War II” – which is more than can be said for “Lopez,” the latest in a series of projects from the comic with some variation of his name (“George Lopez,” “Saint George,” “Lopez Tonight”) in the title.
Here, the leap is more of a hop, as Lopez plays himself, a successful comedian surrounded by snooty white neighbors who sends his daughter (Ashley Zamora) to the not-very-imaginatively named Bragmoor Academy, where, in the premiere, he’s asked to auction himself off to raise money, despite the school sporting a $30,000-a-year tuition.
Written by John Altschuler and Dave Krinsky (“King of the Hill”), “Lopez” loads up on celebrity cameos, with former L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Snoop Dogg showing up in the premiere, which hinges on George ticking off everyone around him. Yet despite a few references to well-publicized aspects of his biography — like divorcing his wife after she donated a kidney to him — the show is largely flavorless, with the funniest gag being a StarLine Tour bus that keeps swinging by his house and insulting him.
Notably, both shows feature agent/manager types (in “Lopez,” played by Hayley Huntley, and upgraded from the real 3 Arts Entertainment to “4 Arts”) who are depicted as bottom-feeders, obsessed with social media and whether their clients are trending — or, in Lopez’s case, the fact that his fan base isn’t white enough.
Whatever social satire “Lopez” might muster, though, in its eponymous hero’s lot as a financially privileged minority, is largely squandered. That leaves behind the occasional amusing line — Lopez saying, “I love hiking. That’s how my family got here,” or the agent noting that Ellen DeGeneres, in light of California’s drought conditions, “lets all five of her lawns go brown” — but there’s not much else.
“Hoff the Record” is already completing a second season, so its Stateside performance is seemingly irrelevant. Meanwhile, “Lopez,” despite the inside-Hollywood stuff, feels much closer to TV Land’s rerun-heavy past than the present that the channel is seeking to define. And it’s about as exciting, ultimately, as watching one’s lawn turn brown.