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(Thursdays at 10:30/9:30c beginning tonight)
The network's description: "Testees, from writer/creator Kenny Hotz (Kenny vs. Spenny), stars Canadian newcomers Steve Markle as "Peter" and Jeff Kassel as "Ron," and two best friends and roommates in their early 30s who work as test subjects for "TESTICO," a less-than-normal product testing facility. In each episode, Peter and Ron are given a new product, experimental medication or treatment to test. The side effects from these are usually ridiculous and almost always negative. The roommates just try to live their lives while waiting for the side effects from these untested products to wear off."
What did they leave out? Lots and lots of bodily fluids are involved. Lots.
The plot in a nutshell: When the change in their couch cushions won't cover their rent, slackers Ron (Jeff Kassel) and Peter (Steve Markle) find themselves back at TESTICO - despite the fact they swore they'd never go back. And so after some groveling - in the form of literally licking the chief doctor's (Marvin Ishmael) shoes - they're back to doing what they do best, serving as human guinea pigs for outrageous products. First up - a mysterious suppository which causes Peter to appear pregnant - complete with swollen abdomen, bizarre food cravings and um, lactation - while Ron doesn't get any symptoms as he's once again snagged the placebo. Terrified he's going to be a dad/mom, Peter grabs the nearest coat hanger and goes to town on his sphincter (no, I'm not kidding). Ron however manages to talk him down and it's not long before they're practicing changing diapers on their next door neighbor (Pat Thornton) and holding their own Lamaze class. Along the way we meet fellow "testee" Larry (Kenny Hotz), who's hit the gold mine in the form of an experimental penis enlargement spray; TESTICO's Amy (Shauna MacDonald), who can't help but be drawn to these lovable losers; and Kate (Kim Schraner), a local bartender. In the end, Ron and Peter find themselves on the run after TESTICO asks to see their "baby" - only to discover Peter's "pregnancy" is the last thing they ever expected.
What works: To its credit, the show seems more than willing to do anything to get a laugh - such as Larry singing "The Star-Spangled Banner" while trying to achieve an erection with his massive penis. It's just a shame that...
What doesn't: ...those laughs are few and far between. First and foremost, the show's general low key tone seems at odds with its highly outrageous content. Part of the fun of "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" is its manic energy - as the characters overreact to their various predicaments, the show gets more outrageous and in turn, you buy the silliness that ensues. Here there's such a blase matter-of-factness to the proceedings it starts to become a little creepy. Even worse, it makes gags that swing for the fences - like Peter taking a coat hanger to himself to get rid of his "pregnancy" - border on tasteless while your typical gross out moments - like Peter milking himself or urinating on Ron when he gives him a pregnancy test - feel like bad Farrelly brothers movie outtakes. That's not to say there isn't some fun to be had - Hotz's Larry definitely livens things up while a misdirection involving Peter and Ron trying to get away from TESTICO is actually quite clever - it's just, like I said, the laughs are few and far between.
The bottom line: If anything, "Testees" further reinforces the genius of "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia."