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THE TV COLUMN

New Lopez show on FX wastes comic’s talent

By Michael Storey

This article was published March 6, 2014 at 2:47 a.m.

saint-george-a-new-adult-comedy-starring-jenn-lyon-and-george-lopez-debuts-at-8-pm-today-on-fx

Saint George, a new adult comedy starring Jenn Lyon and George Lopez, debuts at 8 p.m. today on FX.

Fans of George Lopez need to brace themselves. His new cable comedy pushes the envelope - all the way to crass. Maybe even vulgar.

I realize that’s a harsh judgment for the normally family-friendly comedian, but there you have it.

Saint George premieres at 9 p.m. today on FX.

My theory is that the brain trust at FX, home to such adult-oriented series as The Americans, Justified, American Horror Story and Sons of Anarchy, told Lopez to run with it.

He did and, sadly, what resulted is the worst thing that can happen to a sitcom. It’s not funny. The jokes are crude, the situations hackneyed and the ethnic humor quickly grows stale.

FX is also the home of Louie, starring Louis C.K. It’s brilliant television for a discerning audience and proof that FX can do adult comedy right. Perhaps Lopez is simply out of his element. Or maybe I was just expecting something different.

Don’t look for a repeat of George Lopez, the sitcom that ran on ABC for six years (2002-07) with Constance Marie as his wife.

In this half-hour ensemble, blond, anglo Jenn Lyon (Justified) plays the recently divorced wife of Mexican-American George Lopez (played by Lopez), a wealthy entrepreneur and owner of an energy drink company.

Olga Merediz portrays Lopez’s harpy shrew of a mother, and usual tough guy Danny Trejo plays Lopez’s fun-loving Uncle Tio.

Lofty-minded FX publicity claims, “Ultimately, Saint George is a celebration of a multi-generational family that humorously wrestles with cultural differences.”

Sadly, that means a sitcom can fail in two cultures at the same time. Don’t look for this one to last. Lopez deserves better.

In tonight’s first episode, “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” Uncle Tio and Cousin Junior (David Zayas, Dexter) talk George into getting back in the dating game and he discovers he’s terrible at it. Then George’s ex-wife jumps in to help him get back into action.

Better comedy. Saint George isn’t the only new sitcom arriving tonight. Sirens makes its debut at 9 p.m. on USA. A second episode follows at 9:30.

This smart and likable offering comes from edgy executive producers Denis Leary (Rescue Me) and Bob Fisher (Wedding Crashers), so we know it’s going to be for grown-ups. Leary and Fisher adapted the show from the British comedy/drama of the same name.

Sirens is also on the broader-appealing USA and not the premium cable wannabe FX. It is, however, rated TV-14 for dialogue and language and the occasional sexual situation. Keep that in mind.

Unlike Saint George, the better-written Sirens pulls it off. The adult humor never drifts over into being offensive.

The series follows three of Chicago’s finest paramedics. They may be the A-team in the ambulance, but their “sometimes silly, self-righteous and even self-destructive personalities” make it difficult for them to keep relationships.

Johnny Farrell (Michael Mosley) is the good-looking sports lover; Hank St. Clare (Kevin Daniels) is Johnny’s gay EMT partner and lifelong friend; and Brian Czyk (Kevin Bigley) is the wide-eyed newbie who still lives with his parents.

Sample adult fare: In an early episode, the boys are asked by one of their patients to go back to his place and clear the pornography off his computer.

In the spirit of the unwritten bro code, the understanding guys oblige. But when they check out the kinky stash before hitting delete, even they are shocked and stunned. The porn is never shown, but the trio’s horrified reaction to it made me laugh out loud.

Every adult comedy needs a hot chick, so Australian Jessica McNamee plays Theresa Kelly, a sharp Chicago cop who’s still in love with Johnny, but had to move on when he wouldn’t commit.

Foodie alert. Beat Bobby Flay slides into its regular time at 9 p.m. today on Food Network. There was a “sneak peek” Monday that amounted to the premiere.

Each half-hour, two-round episode features two guest chefs competing to take on Flay in a “food face-off.” A guest panel then determines the winner based on a blind taste test.

Special guests in the eight-episode season are Sunny Anderson, Anne Burrell, Scott Conant, Giada De Laurentiis, Eden Grinshpan, Alex Guarnaschelli, Katie Lee, Simon Majumdar, Jack McDavid, Mo Rocca, Michael Symon, Justin Warner, Jonathan Waxman and Ali Wentworth.

Final numbers. For the number crunchers out there, NBC averaged 21.4 million viewers for the 17 days of the recent Olympics. The median age of viewers continues to get older. It was 55, up from about 48 for the 2002 games in Salt Lake City.

Notable for the future, live streaming of events on laptops, smartphones and tablets accounted for 61.8 million unique users. That’s up a whopping 29 percent from the Vancouver Olympics in 2010.

The TV Column appears Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. Email: mstorey@arkansasonline.com

Weekend, Pages 32 on 03/06/2014

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