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TV Review: Spike’s Rookie Comedy ‘Factory’ Shows Promise

[IMG:L]The “workplace comedy” subgenre is suddenly flooding the TV market, and the four-buddies-working-the-same-dead-end-job premise isn’t exactly groundbreaking. But Factory, the Spike TV network’s first-ever original comedy series (premiering Sunday, June 29, at 10/9c), plays a lot better on the (small) screen than it may read on paper. In fact, the show is a very solid first foray into sitcom land for Spike.

Factory’s concept, as noted above, is positively no-frills: Four alpha-male slackers complain and bicker their way through mundane workdays at a small-town factory; after work, beer is added to the fray. Gary (Mitch Rouse) is pretty much the unspoken leader of the group. There’s also Smitty (David Pasquesi), who currently lives in the same house as his ex-wife and secretly lusts after her “stepfather’s sister’s daughter”; Gus (Jay Leggett), a heftier fella who’s been trying to summon the courage to propose to his live-in girlfriend for the past 11 years; and Chase (Michael Coleman), who has trouble talking to women, let alone keeping them around.

In the series premiere, the four guys all vie for a higher-up position when their supervisor dies on the job. Only problem is, they are left to determine who will snag the promotion amongst themselves.

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Factory and NBC’s The Office will be mentioned in the same sentence in probably every single review. Factory is not yet on The Office’s level, but in fairness, it’s not trying to be. The show is clearly improvised heavily, which will endear more than just the target audience (young males). It takes a few minutes to feel at ease with the foursome and their banter, but once the tone is established, the chemistry is palpable and enjoyable. The three supporting players–all of whom are seasoned TV and movie veterans–especially Pasquesi (Strangers with Candy) as the awkward Smitty, are lightning-quick, funny and complementary of one another, but Rouse is the show. Literally.

The co-creator of Comedy Central’s Strangers with Candy–on which he also appeared–Rouse stars in (obviously), directs, and co-produces Factory, and those familiar with his past work, or improv in general, for that matter, will pick up on and appreciate this show’s sensibilities: quick, sarcastic, sharp, and never too testosterone-y, which is nice. Overall, it’s (for the most part) laugh-out-loud comedy that isn’t necessarily exclusive to Spike’s demographic.

Grade: B+

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