Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Honking Box Review: The Loop

It’s perhaps a somewhat futile exercise to bother with a review of a show that was cancelled two years ago – it’s sort of on a par with pondering what might happen once Rachel sees Ross walks through the Arrivals gate with the Chinese woman.

However, given E4’s acquisition of The Loop, a three-year-old sitcom from Fox, and its bizarrely high level of promotion for it, we feel that it’s in keeping with the questionable celebration of staleness. It would seem that this decision has been made to coincide with the disappointing cancellation of Reaper, though Bret Harrison – for all his charms – was never enough of an impact on the British public to justify E4 doling out televisual methadone to wean viewers off his main vehicle.

Still, if we sat around trying to determine why schedulers make the decisions they make, we’d have a big job ahead of us, and an even bigger headache. So let’s examine The Loop itself – a fast-paced, post-watershed ladcom, which sees Harrison in the role of an airline executive named Sam. Yes, another Sam. As far as typecasting goes, it’s obviously not reaching Danny Dyer levels of one-trick-ponydom, but he’d better hope his next role sees him playing an Archibald or an Agamemnon.

The Loop proudly exemplifies binge drinking, nudity, swearing and is, in effect, one long clumsy Hollywood-interpretation of a frat party. And yet, its presence under the umbrella of all-American ideals mean the drinking always precedes a told-you-so hangover, the nudity is only ever implied via waist-up rear views, and the swearing rarely passes “ass” or “damn”.

It’s rather like jPod as reimagined by the editor of Nuts magazine, and as such, doesn’t even feel like a real sitcom. It functions more as though it were the punchline to a bigger-picture postmodern joke-within-a-joke, like Echo Beach was to Moving Wallpaper, or Room & Bored within The Comeback (ironically, a show that should never have felt the axeman’s blade).

But it’s all a moot point, given that The Loop lasted all of two seasons before getting the inevitable chop, making this review quite the assignment in pissing on someone’s grave. It says a great deal, however, about the all-too-hasty cancellation process in television – particularly US television – and its effect on the shows in question. Watching both The Loop and Reaper feel rather like working in an infirmary, knowing you’re surrounded by those on a very limited clock (although, let the record show, one of them is a luxury infirmary with attractive patients, whilst the other is located in Blackpool and smells of wee).

Knowing that Samantha Who wasn’t even given the opportunity to bow out with dignity is bad enough, but Joss Whedon taking the initiative to film a final episode of Dollhouse just to draw a line under the series should the commissioners decide against a second series is just plain depressing. Thankfully, Dollhouse has received a green light, but the whole process makes for somewhat awkward viewing when you know it's under such intense scrutiny. But, that said, watching The Loop, you realise the axeman is there for a reason. We just wish he got it right more often.

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