TELEVISION
Review

'Weird Loners' on Fox has promise despite warmed-over premise

Robert Lloyd
Contact ReporterLos Angeles Times Television Critic
.LATimesTVLloyd says 'Weird Loners' on Fox seems a little late to the station

"Weird Loners" is a new comedy from Fox that feels like an old comedy from Fox.

At some point, it must have seemed like a compatible addition to the likes of "The Mindy Project" and "New Girl," other ensemble pieces about people old enough to know better who still don't know better. (Jake Kasdan, an executive producer of "New Girl," is on board and directed the pilot, which airs Tuesday night.)

The new addition, which appears even as "Mindy" and "New Girl" are threatened with cancellation, was created by Michael J. Weithorn, who also created "Ned and Stacey" and co-created "The King of Queens." He is not writing about his own generation here.

Such premise as there is: In the fictional city of New York — Queens, to judge by a walk through Flushing Meadows, the Fox back lot to judge by most everything else — four people in their 30s wind up living in two adjacent town houses connected through a shared attic.

Stosh (Zachary Knighton) moves in with his cousin Eric (Nate Torrence) under the guise of helping out after the death of Eric's father but really because he has lost his job and apartment. (He slept with his boss' fiancee; it's a pattern.) Zara (Meera Rohit Kumbhani), an artist who has walked out on her boyfriend, winds up living with Caryn (Becki Newton) because — well, just because.

Stosh, who has lived with his father until now, is still emotionally a child (well, they're all emotional children, but Stosh is the most childlike); Caryn is desperate for love; Zara runs from it; and Eric is too busy running around to care.

There is a brief "sociological" preamble to the pilot that draws our attention to the fact these people are still single at an age where they should be coupled; it feels tacked on, as if to say, preemptively, self-protectively, "We do have a point."

Still, there is nothing really wrong with it. The characters are a little unpalatable at first (some more than a little) and become a little less so later, which is common sitcom progress. (I have seen three episodes.) They will do some nice things for one another, even if not always for the right reasons; they will reveal their hurt, their humanity.

The principals are all good; I have been a fan of Newton since "Ugly Betty," and remain one; Torrence brings some soul to his simpleton. There are nice details: the cousins' Polishness, the characters' unglamorous, regular-life jobs: dental hygienist, dental products salesman, toll-booth attendant.

And there are funny lines. Here's one I liked: "He's only been living with me for a month and already knows everything I like. Just the other day, I said, 'I like oatmeal,' and he said, 'Yeah, I know.' Actually he screamed it at me, and then he threw that thing."

At the same time, the show feels something shy of essential, its future already fraught, its arrival mistimed, like a train pulling late into a station that has since been closed for repairs. But it is not evil, and I wish it luck.

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'Weird Loners'

Where: Fox

When: 9:30 p.m. Tuesday

Rating: TV-14-DL (may be unsuitable for children under the age of 14, with advisories for suggestive dialogue and coarse language)

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