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'The Loop' is an endless flight of frat-boy fancy

''The Loop" is a television artifact through which we can examine a classic case of Male Post-College Struggle Syndrome, a phase during which the young adult mind is drawn to intellectual pursuit and the illusion of financial stability while the body and soul simultaneously gravitate toward retrogressive behaviors as a protective defense mechanism against the inevitable disappointments of maturity and its primary byproduct, responsibility.


''The Loop" is a dumb, though not dull, Fox sitcom premiering in the cushy position after tonight's ''American Idol" results show, at 9:30 on Channel 25. It's a whole mess of fart jokes, penis references, frat-like pranks, and tequila shots, possibly forming a new genre of sitcom called the Spring Break-com. Set in Chicago, ''The Loop" revolves around the double life of Sam (Bret Harrison), a Gen-X-Y-Z Superman who works a high-powered airline job by day and parties down by night. How does this dude do it?

At home, Sam and his roommate-brother Sully (Eric Christian Olsen) still goad each other like children. Sully is a professional loser, but man, does he know how to have a good time. Also in the house: Piper (Amanda Loncar), on whom Sam nurtures a crush, and the flaky Lizzy (Sarah Mason), who serves at the bar where the gang hangs. Next week at the bar, Sam finds himself sucked into a drinking contest and an egg-eating contest despite the demands of a special work project.

At the office, however, life is a lot less eggs-cellent. Sam deals with a crusty boss, Russ (Philip Baker Hall), who hopes he can help the airline find the youth market. But no matter how much Sam screws up, no matter how ferocious his hangover may be, his boss always interprets his mistakes as brilliant strokes. And Sam is constantly fending off the sexual advances of an airline vice president named Meryl (Mimi Rogers), who feeds him come-ons such as this age-related line: ''You're good at math. Want to see how many times 24 goes into 48?" ''The Loop" is a male fantasy of eternal playtime, and Meryl and her eager looseness are an essential part of it.

The show moves along briskly, and it benefits from the lack of a laugh track. But you have to accept the relentless repetition of some flagrantly juvenile jokes to enjoy yourself. The humor for 10-year-olds just keeps on coming, as if on a loop.

Matthew Gilbert can be reached at

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