The Loop was a freshman show that got cut down amidst all the
mayhem last fall.
Co-created by Will Gluck (Andy Richter Controls the Universe) and former South Park scribe Pam Brady, the show centers around 24-year-old Sam
Sullivan (Bret Harrison), the youngest executive at a major airline, and the
first among his friends to land a real job. Well… major airline may be overstating
things a bit. Sam works at Trans Alliance under a gruff CEO, Russ (Philip Baker
Hall), and his right-hand woman Meryl (Mimi Rogers). It’s a struggling niche
carrier who’s currently outside of the top 10 in passengers and certainly
prestige. Still, Sam is doing well for himself. As half suit and half slacker, though,
Sam has to somewhat precariously straddle two worlds, balancing a desire to
climb the corporate ladder with his desire — and capability — to party hardy
with his wild and crazy roommates.
First there’s Sam’s older, hedonistic brother Sully (Eric
Christian Olsen, putting an only somewhat tamer spin on the same sort of
character he played in The Last Kiss),
who refuses to grow up. Then there’s Piper (Amanda Loncar), Sam’s college friend,
for whom he secretly has a crush. Finally there’s ditzy bartender Lizzy (Sarah
Mason), who proves the object of many of Sully’s schemes and jokes.
The character of oblivious female crush is an old one, and The Loop doesn’t do an extremely
convincing job of making Piper more than a very pretty and occasionally witty cipher.
The absurdist plotlines, meanwhile (including a dog swallowing Sam’s portable flash
drive), are little more than transparent set-ups for fast-paced, throwaway humor.
What elevates the show, though, is its cleanly delineated irreverent tone and consistently
wicked joke writing — the flesh and blood of any sitcom to the skeletal
structure of its conceit. It certainly helps, too, that the cast is likeable
across the board.
DVD is the perfect format for an aborted series likes The Loop, and this regular Amray
case-housed collection of all seven episodes of the show (a half dozen more or
so may be burned off as summer filler — it’s to be decided) presents them in
fine fashion. Somewhat surprisingly, at least to me, the programs are in a 1.78:1
anamorphic widescreen aspect ratio; an English Dolby digital 5.01 surround
sound mix captures the series’ aural demands with grace and ease.
Close-captioned or ESL audiences can also avail themselves of the optional
English and Spanish subtitles. The lone bonus feature is a brief collection of
interviews with cast and crew — Thesis:
Work vs. Play, its title referring to a impassioned pitch that helped Sam
land his job at Trans Alliance in the first place. What The Loop’s fate is, ultimately, one can’t be sure, but that doesn’t
mitigate to an untoward degree the pleasure of this set. B (Series) C+ (Disc)