American Body Shop

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10:30 p.m. Sunday, July 8
Comedy Central

Here we have another of those twisted, hit-and-miss, 10 o'clock-hour romps from Comedy Central that travel boldly and unapologetically over the top. Indeed, subtlety is not the strong suit of "American Body Shop," a zany comedy (not reality) series that purports to explore the hijinks inside an auto repair shop run by lunatics.

It's the kind of place where catastrophic injury is a daily occurrence and the facility's lone minority, Luis (Frank Merino), is obliged to don an outfit and ride beneath the carriage of tested automobiles at great risk to his health and well being. It's a place devoid of morals and ethics, where the only thing they have to fear is themselves.

Desert Body and Custom near Phoenix is populated by a pervert (John DiResta), a prankster (Tim Nichols), a nutball owner (Peter Hulne), a receptionist (Jill Bartlett) who works to hustle car crash victims and a savant-like technician (Nick Offerman); naturally, fixing cars is the least of their concerns. Their interaction is by turns painfully funny and just plain painful.

In the pilot, there's a mad scramble to get the crash-rich shop up to code when an insurance rep threatens to revoke its policy. Of course, you wonder why she is merely threatening and not reporting it to the automotive oversight board straightaway. But those who hang around the shop have no intention of altering their dangerous style, dolts that they are. It's all very disturbing, and none of these people would ever be permitted to function in polite society, much less remain gainfully employed. That's where "American Body Shop" falls down a bit. It's always funnier to watch people whom we know could actually exist. That said, you've got to admire the sheer moxie of a comedy that so defiantly holds to the courage of its wacky convictions.

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