Hey look, another terrific comedy nixed by Fox! Judge David Johnson is shocked.
Exec by day. Excess by night.
Fox's sneeze-and-you-missed-it, rapid-fire frat boy meets The Office sitcom taxis onto DVD. The Loop: It's funny. Go watch it.
Facts of the Case
Here's the gimmick for The Loop: 24-year-old Sam Sullivan (Bret Harrison) is the youngest-ever executive for a major airline, and constantly battles the internal conflict of being a successful corporate honcho and the irresponsible, drunken tendencies of a young, impulsive male. On the business side, he's lorded over by volatile CEO Russ (Phillip Baker Hall) and sexually harassed by his aging femme fatale mentor Meryl (Mimi Rogers). Back in the world of degenerate 20-somethings, Sam resists the idiocy of his older brother Sully (Eric Christian Olsen) and ditzy Lizzy (Sarah Mason), while punishing himself with an impossible crush on long-time friend and roommate Piper (Amanda Loncar).
Seven episodes crammed onto one disc:
This is a funny, funny show, one of the few half-hour sitcoms I've been able to suffer through, much less thoroughly enjoy. While the synopsis may make it sound corny and base, the show is actually very clever, aided by gusto performances, a relentless energy and authentically funny writing.
The show begins and ends with Bret Harrison. His character is the focal point through every episode, and all comedic catastrophes revolve around him. Harrison has the goods, turning what could have easily been an unsympathetic punk kid into a decent, though distracted schlemiel. Sam tries to the right thing, but often impassable obstacles enter his life. These range from his slacker brother to his weak will when faced with peer pressure to just the assemblage of Earth's mystical forces arrayed against him. He manages to eke out a victory out of all these near-fatal experiences, of course, and that sort of become the theme in the series, but the writers manage to drum up more and more outlandish scenarios that call those positive outcomes into question. The supporting cast bats fine clean-up Harrison. Olsen is hilarious has the elder Sullivan, shouldering the slapstick quotient heroically, Mimi Rogers knows how to play sultry and awkward, and Phillip Baker Hall is the man as the abrasive CEO; every one of his lines if gold, and for my money, he goes down in the annals of sitcom history as one of the all-time great loony bosses. The Piper and Lizzy characters are okay, with airhead Lizzy, as Sully's counterpart, providing a decent share of cheap laughs (mispronouncing the word "anus" for example). Piper's main reason for being there is to act as Sam's oblivious object of affection. This plot thread grows stale quickly, even when it's relegated to the background. As such, Piper is a character ultimately I could do without.
Episodes are comprised of outrageous scenarios, all of which involve Sam and his work/play juggling act. In "Jack Air," he's tasked with putting together a low-cost airline, but a wild fling with a party girl endangers the project; "Trouble in the Saddle" finds him nursing a serous groin injury (sustained from an ill-advised trip on a homemade zip-line) while riding horses at Russ's ranch and trying to broker a major purchase deal; and in "The Year of the Dog" (my favorite), a vicious dog swallows Sam's wireless flash drive, which contains a critical presentation and Sam must keep his laptop directed at the dog's hindquarters to pick up a signal. Add to that drunken egg-eating contests, a burro race in Mexico, humans made out of cold cuts, Nair-induced crotch burns, "I Love Clay Aiken" T-shirts, lewd references to hard drives, beer-drinking canines and diaper-clad chimpanzees.
It's that kind of show. Is it a serious meditation on 20-something culture? Nah. The characters are all pretty much cartoon characters, but that's what infuses the series with such charm. Who the @#$% wants another Real World? The Loop works so well because it embodies the characteristics of its lead: there's some grown-up in there somewhere, but at its heart, the show is all about having a good time.
Fox the studio gives this series a solid DVD treatment (Fox the network, unfortunately nixed it after seven episodes; ten more episodes will be burned off in the summer). Episodes receive a slick 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, supported by a 5.0 surround mix. The only extra is a lame featurette, where the actors gush about how much they enjoy working with each other.
I laughed very hard many times throughout these seven episodes. There were a few clunky bits, but the sum total of hearty bellowing far outweighed the slow stuff. Give this one a spin.
The accused is cleared for takeoff.
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Scales of Justice
• "Thesis: Work vs. Play" Featurette
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