THE SERIES "Weird Loners"

WHEN | WHERE Premieres Tuesday at 9:30 p.m. on Fox/5

WHAT IT'S ABOUT Caryn (Becki Newton) is a dental assistant in Manhattan and a serial dater who can't commit. Stosh (Zachary Knighton) is a salesman and womanizer who won't commit. Eric (Nate Torrence) is a toll collector who lives in Queens and who's committed to the Mets, at least as a fan. Zara (Meera Rohit Kumbhani) is an artist who also has commitment-phobia, and then meets Eric. Meanwhile, Stosh meets Caryn. New fraught friendships are formed, and, after Stosh gets fired, he moves in with Eric. They are loners no more, but their lives do start to get complicated.

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MY SAY "Weird Loners" is a prison sentence. Or, if you prefer a sports-related simile, it's a baseball bat across the back of the head. No to baseball? Then let's try Dante: It's a deep dive down to the fifth circle of sitcom purgatory, where wrathful, sullen, desperately unfunny single-camera comedies wander throughout all eternity, awaiting a call from an agent to tell them that a network -- like Fox -- has just ordered them to series. You'd be a show named "Weird Loners," too.

This one got that call because the showrunner, Jake Kasdan, is a successful director ("Bad Teacher") and producer ("New Girl"), with only one certifiable room-clearing bomb ("Sex Tape"). Also because Newton ("Ugly Betty") and Knighton ("Happy Endings") are attached. They are attractive actors with a lot of vitality who are almost always appealing in whatever they're in.

Except here. But, then, nothing else is all that appealing, either. The characters aren't "weird" as much as "unlucky in love or life," not "loners" so much as just self-absorbed. Not that there's anything particularly wrong with this setup -- the same for so many other Manhattan-cetric romcoms where self-absorption ultimately gives way to romance, etc.

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 But because this is such an overly familiar TV trope, it demands great chemistry among all the leads and sharply funny dialogue to match. I wandered through this purgatory for three episodes and of that...found zilch.

BOTTOM LINE Sad "Loners."