THE SERIES "Big Time in Hollywood, FL"

WHEN | WHERE Wednesday night at 10:30 on Comedy Central

WHAT IT'S ABOUT In Hollywood, Florida, a pair of brothers have big dreams of becoming filmmakers, but those are challenged when their very nice parents, Alan (Stephen Tobolowsky) and Diana (Kathy Baker), decide to kick them out of the house. The boys -- or rather men -- have to think fast, or they'll end up on the street, their dreams gone.

Jack (Alex Anfanger, star and creator of the online Web series "Next Time on Lonny") and Ben (Lenny Jacobson) think they've got the perfect solution: make their parents hand over $20,000 by convincing them that Ben has turned into a drug addict. They need some help, and enlist a would-be actor (Ben Stiller, whose production company developed the show) to help them. The plan does not turn out as expected. Cameos in later episodes are by Michael Madsen, who plays a detective, and Cuba Gooding Jr., who plays Cuba Gooding Jr.

MY SAY Not that thinking is necessarily required here, but think of "Big Time in Hollywood, FL" as an extended movie played out over multiple episodes, with commercial breaks. Or maybe think of it as a Hollywood satire, with Jack representing the before-he's-rich-famous-and-powerful Hollywood producer with the conscience of a flea. Or just think of it as something Stiller recently did in his spare time (say between breakfast and lunch).

But a consistently funny comedy with a concise point of view along with a pair of endearing leads who embody the same go-for-broke slacker anomie of the three amigos on "Workaholics"? Uh-uh: Don't even think of going there.

Not that "Big Time" is a complete mess. In fact, it's not (completely). This series boasts some reasonably high production values, certainly for Comedy Central, with lots of energy, and a sense that it knows where it's going and how to get there. But the tone is so relentlessly mean-spirited, the guys so unlikable, their predicament so pathetic that "Big Time" deflates before your very eyes. The funny idea that launched this is largely forgotten by the end of the first episode, and by the fourth -- four episodes were provided for review -- you struggle to remember why you even got on this frantic ride in the first place. I did anyway.

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GRADE C-