September 10, 2008 / 3:11 AM / in 10 years

Viewers unlikely to "Disturb" Fox sitcom

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - They say sitcoms are just one hit away from making a comeback to their previous glory. Maybe so, but Fox’s “Do Not Disturb” isn’t it. This is a show that could bury the genre altogether.

The series is set in a boutique hotel, though it could just as well be a factory, given the complete absence of guests in the premiere. Publicity for the show refers to an upstairs-downstairs schism between employees who work in public areas and those who work out of sight. That, too, is not apparent from the premiere.

Instead, creator Abraham Higginbotham simply stocks the show with an assortment of stereotypical characters who search in vain for a truly funny line. With its 10 executive producers, co-executive producers and producers, the show looks and sounds like the work of a committee.

Jerry O’Connell tries to sell himself as Neal, general manager and ladies’ man. His comedic foil is “Reno 911’s” Niecy Nash, who channels Jackee Harry while playing Rhonda, the human resources director. O’Connell is less than convincing as a Lothario, and Nash, a veteran of improv, goes way over the top.

There’s also Molly Stanton as sexy Nicole, the front-desk supervisor who wants to be a model, and Jesse Tyler Ferguson as Larry, head of housekeeping, who plays the role as the sitcom twin to his Richie from “The Class.”

Problems that arise from the performances are magnified by a script from Higginbotham that is as subtle as a knock from housekeeping. In the premiere, a newspaper prints a tell-all story about sex at the hotel, which leads Rhonda to declare an end to hanky-panky in the office. Honest. That’s the story. You can’t make this stuff up, or it would be better if you didn’t.

So what happens to Rhonda and the security chief right after she promulgates the new rules? You’re way ahead of me, boys and girls.

Fox needed a comedy to follow “‘Til Death” and fill out the hour. Apparently, the need was more desperate than anyone imagined.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

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