I don't ask for much when it comes to comedies. All I ask is they make me laugh. A character says something witty, some banter is exchanged with another, and laughter ensues. It seems like a simple enough request, no?
"Spun Out," the latest original multi-camera comedy from CTV, isn't knee-slapping hilarity but it does have laugh-out-loud moments. The series is shot in front of a live studio audience (which, similar to a laugh track, I don't always love) and is set in DLPR, a public relations agency set in Toronto. DLPR is headed by Dave Lyons (Dave Foley, "NewsRadio," "Kids in the Hall"), who takes his underlings' antics in stride. While Foley's resumé speaks for itself, funnily enough it's Dave's newest employee, failed writer Beckett Ryan (Paul Campbell, "Battlestar Galactica"), who draws the biggest laughs.
Unlike CTV's cancelled sitcom, "Satisfaction," which dove right into its premiere with the assumption that viewers would just figure out who everyone is, we're introduced to all the wacky characters who call DLPR their workplace in the pilot. It's actually Nelson Abrams (Al Mukadam, "Radio Free Roscoe"), Beckett's childhood friend and agency shark, who takes his pal around the office on his first day on the job. We also meet Stephanie Lyons (Rebecca Dalton, "The L.A. Complex"), the boss' daughter who seemingly has no business working in PR; Bryce McBradden (J.P. Manoux, "Community"), Dave's quirky assistant; and Gordon Woolmer (comedian Darcy Michael), the wacky office weirdo, whose role I still don't quite get. And, to be honest, if I never saw the annoying character again it would be too soon (though I am a little nervous that CTV is banking on getting a lot of the laughs from good ol' Gordo). There's another character, Abby Hayes (Holly Deveaux, "Hemlock Grove"), who adds more dimension to Beckett as his roommate/ex-girlfriend who weasels herself into her ex's work life.
While the pilot is more of an introductory episode, the show really picks up in its second and third episodes, which feature special guest stars Tricia Helfer ("Killer Women"), Will Sasso ("MADtv") and "Storage Wars'" Barry Weiss, respectively. And unlike some shows which feature guest appearances just for the sake of having a big name on, Helfer and Sasso's roles made sense and add a little something extra to the show. Jason Priestley, "Super Fun Night'"s Lauren Ash and the "Kids in the Hall" guys will also show up in future episodes.
DLPR is renowned for spinning -- and solving -- everyone's problems, but when it comes to their own, that's when the trouble begins. It's pretty predictable fare here (not surprising considering it's being touted as a dysfunctional workplace comedy) and we've seen these characters hundreds of times before: the crazy, intimidating boss, the office oddball, the normal, sarcastic guy, the ditzy girl, the harried assistant -- but that doesn't make "Spun Out" bad or not worth watching. On the contrary, it definitely has witty, winsome moments; just not a ton of originality.
Campbell definitely has the breakout role playing a character we can all identify with (I envision Beckett as a cross between Jim Halpert and Chandler Bing in an office setting) but it's Foley's bemused reaction to the shenanigans going on around him that make him the show's biggest asset.
"Spun Out" debuts with a two-night premiere beginning Thursday, March 6 at 8:30 p.m. ET before it moves to its regular Friday at 8 p.m. ET timeslot on March 7 on CTV.
CTV 2013-14 TV