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On the Tube: WB's Sunday sexcom wants to be TV's 'American Pie'

Friday, October 12, 2001

By Rob Owen Post-Gazette TV Editor

Every right-thinking, propriety-loving ounce of my being wants to hate The WB's new sexcom "Off Centre" (9:30 p.m. Sunday, WCWB). And mostly I do.

But a little part of me, the proverbial devil on my shoulder, kind of got a kick out of it. The more I watched, the more the devil wanted to watch. I just couldn't believe what the writers were getting away with.

The WB sent three episodes for review, each one more sexually charged than the one before. This weekend's premiere is comparatively tame. It introduces New York roommates Mike (Eddie Kaye Thomas) and Euan (Sean Maguire).

Mike is a nebbish American, Euan is a worldly Brit, who, in the opening scene gets a mattress saleswoman to bounce on her product. Other regular characters include Mike's girlfriend, Liz (Lauren Stamile), and two friends: Chau (John Cho) and the rapper Status Quo (Jason George), whose thug image is a put on.

The premiere's plot is fairly simplistic, with Mike annoyed by Euan's invitation to Liz that she move in and Euan's attempts to juggle three women he's attracted to.

Future episodes don't push the envelope, they tear it to shreds and set it afire. In one, Euan discovers he's contracted a nasty case of crabs. Yes, it's a sexually transmitted disease played for laughs.

"One of the four women I slept with last week must have been a slut," Euan declares.

Later other characters suffer similar symptoms, prompting Mike to say, "She was scratching her crotch like it was a lottery ticket."

I won't even get into the masturbation-themed episode titled "A Stroke of Genius."

Yes, it's gross. Of course, it's unnecessary. But "Off Centre" takes things to such absurd extremes, it can't help but elicit some chuckles. It's just too bad it takes lowest common denominator jokes to generate those laughs.

"Off Centre" was created by Chris Weitz and Paul Weitz, co-directors and producers of the original "American Pie" movie. Thomas starred in the films, which is probably why he was tapped for "Off Centre," but his monotone voice may not wear well on a weekly basis. Co-star Cho also appeared in "Pie."

All similarities to the dessert-themed film end there. For all its sexual high jinks, "American Pie" had a surprising innocence about it. There's little that's sweet or pure in "Off Centre."

'Men, Women & Dogs'
(8:30 p.m. Sunday, WCWB)

By way of contrast, The WB's other new Sunday night sitcom is a generic bore. Not smutty enough to shock, not sanitary enough to be labeled inoffensive, "Men, Women & Dogs" is, well, pretty much a dog.

Bill Bellamy ("Any Given Sunday," "MTV Jams") stars as Jeremiah, a horny chef who lures female diners into bed with his delicious desserts. He meets his buddies at a dog park where they trade notes about women.

Clay (Danny Pino) is a sensitive wuss, dim surfer Eric (Niklaus Lange) kisses his dog on the lips much to the dismay of his competitive girlfriend (her face-off with Eric's dog is one of the show's few funny moments). Newest friend Royce (Mike Damus) pinches pennies like you wouldn't believe.

Actually, you won't believe most of this show.

The idea of guys bonding in a dog park has merit as a one-shot movie, but sustaining it on a weekly basis will be doggone difficult.


Rob Owen can be reached at 412-263-2582 or rowen@post-gazette.com. Post questions or comments about TV to www.post-gazette.com/tv under PG Online Talk.

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