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Welcome once again to our annual "first look" at the broadcast networks' offerings for the 2012-2013 season, now in its seventh year! Each day we'll walk you through one of the new series set to premiere next season (or one that didn't make the cut) and go over our initial impressions after viewing the pilot. Keep in mind that a lot can change from what's being screened right now - recasting, reshooting, etc. - but we still want to give you a heads up on what you should (and shouldn't) keep on your radar in the coming months. So enough of our rambling, on with the show!
[IMPORTANT NOTE: The following is based on the original sales presentation which was screened to us privately or supplied by a third party NOT an informational, not-for-review screener provided by the network in question.]
LIVING LOADED (BUSTED FOX PILOT)
(written by Rob McElhenney & Rob Rosell; directed by TBD; TRT: 22:54)
The network's description: No official description was released.
What did they leave out? It's inspired by Dan Dunn's book of the same name, subtitled "Tales of Sex, Salvation, and the Pursuit of the Never-Ending Happy Hour."
The plot in a nutshell: Sam Deegan's (Mike Vogel) life is literally a party as he spends his days writing about - and experiencing - the joys of drinking to the readers of his successful blog. His disapproving father Grant (Donald Sutherland) however has a better idea: come co-host "After Hours" (a dignified discussion of "the finer aspects of American leisure") at his radio station, KPFN Los Angeles. Sam agrees, much to the horror of his fastidious co-host Leonard Clark (Larry Wilmore) who can't believe he has to share a booth with such a mongrel. Case in point: Sam shows up for their inaugural broadcast with a perforated eardrum and proceeds to tell how it happened.
You see, Leonard and Sam were originally supposed to talk about a wine tasting they attended the day before (Leonard: "We will be enjoying an '82 Chateau Labadie, it's the last vintage of my vertical tasting.") only to be delayed by Bobby (Michael Marc Friedman), a roofer and one of Sam's two "idea guys" (the other being gal pal Maureen, played by Sugar Lyn Beard). His bright ideas include throwing his lazy co-workers off the roof (don't ask) and, after missing the tasting as a result, trying to break into the winery. It all ultimately makes Sam look like an idiot, but also improbably something of a hit for the station. In the end, he just might make his dad proud after all.
What works: I can appreciate the humor in getting Donald Sutherland to say things like "I'd rather not get nipple to nipple" as much as the next guy but...
What doesn't: ...this one is kind of mess. As if you can't tell already, the above plot description doesn't exactly make sense while Sam's motivations are scattershot at best. We're initially told he loves his life - he's thrilled to be a C-list celebrity with his own cottage industry and takes the radio gig to impress his dad - only to later learn he feels like a stooge for the advertising community, once had grander ambitions like writing for The New Yorker (even though he can't spell) and is jealous of how smart people like Leonard are. I'm sure there's a way to get from A to B however the pilot makes the leap without doing the legwork to get there.
I guess it would help if Sam or Leonard came across as real people: the former feels like what you'd make up to say what a blogger does (advertisers pay for him to live in a hotel! he wears ads on his jacket like a NASCAR driver!) while the latter is every bit the cliched NPR personality you'd expect. The show instead devotes itself to shrug-worthy subplots that don't add anything - Grant's boss (Anna Maria Horsford) forces him to hire Sam in the first place and later blackmails him to stay or else she'll fire Grant; beats that exist only to be silly - the aforementioned roof incident, a crunchy employee (Kaitlyn Black) who bemoans her now limited seed budget; or rehashing weak gags - needle drops of LMFAO's "Party Rock Anthem" to show Sam's a party guy, cuts to WETD every time Sam and Leonard start to argue. Again, maybe there's a show in here...
The bottom line: ...it just never sells it.