Sitcoms have gotten a bad name, of late. After "Seinfeld," "Friends" and "Cheers," the waters of the sitcom ocean have become murky and hard to discern.
There are a few breakout hits, like "The Office," and a few critical favorites, like the late and lamented "Arrested Development," but there's room out there for some solid, funny and bizarre stories to be told.
That's why I'm happy that Fox put out "The Loop" Season One, the silly and light story of a recent college graduate trying to balance his immense work responsibilities without losing all the things that made his life fun before.
Bret Harrison stars as Sam Sullivan, the youngest ever executive at Trans Alliance – a failing airline that's claim to fame is being number 11 in the world.
Harrison is a veteran of frivolous TV shows – appearing on "The O.C.", "Grounded for Life" and "That '70s Show" before getting his starring shot on "The Loop." He plays the part of the confused and well-meaning Sam to a T, with the help of a great supporting cast.
Sam's layabout brother, Sully, is played by Eric Christian Olsen (Lloyd in "Dumb and Dumberer"), who infuses the show with some of its lunacy. His hare-brained attempts at responsibility tend to land his brother in odd predicaments – a staple of lighter fare sitcoms.
Amanda Loncar plays Piper, the roommate Sam's in love with, but – surprise! – has no idea he feels that way. Also living in the house is Lizzy (Sarah Mason), a ditzy blonde bartender who plays the foil in many of Sully's schemes.
At work, Sam must contend with his boss Russ (played capably by Phillip Baker Hall) and his right-hand-woman Meryl (Mimi Rogers). Their demands on Sam are at once out-of-the-question hard and indicitive of the high regard in which they hold Sam – nicknamed "Thesis" for the thesis paper that got him hired by the airline.
The first season of "The Loop" was abbreviated, due in part to Fox's insane sports schedule, and only includes seven episodes.
The plots here are insane, including Year of the Dog, in which Sam has to keep a vicious dog nearby to do a Powerpoint presentation that could save the airline, and Trouble in the Saddle, which calls on Lizzy to handle Sam's tender "swimsuit area."
Trouble in the Saddle is likely the best of the bunch on sheer audacity. When Lizzy prepares to manually stimulate Sam, she asks "Riverboat style or regular?"
These aren't life-changing stories, to be sure, but they provide what's missing in most sitcoms – easy, light-hearted fun that isn't cringingly awkward or heavy-handed with social awareness. It's just funny.
"The Loop" is a one-camera comedy, shot in HD 1.78:1 widescreen. It is clear and beautiful and the creators have taken great lengths to make the show bright and visually interesting.
The laughs aren't hard to hear in 5.0 Dolby Surround. There may be planes, but this isn't "Top Gun." It's not a showcase disc, but it gets the job done.
"The Loop" Season One doesn't go crazy on the add-ons with the short promo piece "Thesis: Work vs. Play." It includes interviews with the cast and the creators on the themes behind the show and how the actors view their characters.
"The Loop" is a sitcom aimed directly at the young-at-heart demographic, with absurdist plots, great throwaway lines and nothing too heavy to detract from the point of it all – being funny. For a break from the serial dramas and the lout of a husband with a bossy wife genre of sitcoms, "The Loop" Season One is Highly Recommended.