‘Sin City Saints': TV Review

Courtesy of Yahoo! Screen
Yahoo’s original scripted sports comedy shoots but doesn’t score

Laughs are nonexistent in this streaming sitcom about a Las Vegas expansion basketball team.

Las Vegas. Home to gamblers, gangsters, Cirque du Soleil, Celine Dion and — in the world of Yahoo! Screen’s manic, mostly unfunny half-hour sports comedy — a low-level expansion basketball team known as the Sin City Saints. Owned by spoiled billionaire Jake Tullus (Andrew Santino), the Saints are facing record attendance lows, their sole saving grace being much-loved player LaDarius Pope (Keith Powers). Sadly, this cocksure, but bird-brained athlete is sidelined early in the first episode when an accelerator-happy mascot knocks him to the ground with the so-called Pope Mobile.

It’s another in a long line of PR disasters made even worse by the fact that it’s actually Tullus beneath the mascot garb. He just had to drive that Pope Mobile, dammit! While Tullus and his right-hand man, Kevin Freeman (Tom Arnold), try to deflect the blame onto the real mascot by paying him off and flying him to Fiji, who should arrive but the team’s taskmaster lawyer, Dusty Halford (Malin Akerman). She’s the glowering, acid-tongued foil to Tullus’ perpetually shrugging man child — though her no-nonsense ’tude is partly the result of a bad divorce. (Even castrating career girls have reasons!)

Halford wants a speedy resolution to this debacle that ends with Tullus’ dismissal and her own quick exit from her “least favorite city.” But by the end of episode two — in which Tullus turns the tables on Halford after she unwittingly has sex with an underage member of the team’s charity — it looks like she’ll be stuck in the Entertainment Capital of the world indefinitely. All the better to indulge in more sub-Tracy and Hepburn bickering with her spoon-fed adversary that barely elicits a smirk, let alone busts a gut.

In tone, Sin City Saints appears to be aiming for the breakneck meta jokery of Arrested Development (record-scratch comic cutaways are prevalent), though the milieu-specific shenanigans more recall The Office and Parks and Recreation, complete with faux-doc handheld camera. Based on the three episodes sent out for review, the series doesn’t hold a candle to any of those predecessors, in large part because of the problematic casting. Both Akerman and Santino are irritatingly one-note. She overdoes the ice-queen chill, while he overplays the moneyed unpleasantness. Arnold, meanwhile, seems to be walking through it all; it’s hard to tell if his eternally harried expression is character-specific or get-me-out-of-here desperate.

The plotting is frenetic without ever being inspired; when the hopelessly naive Pope proposes marriage and promises much of his earnings to a terminally ill online acquaintance whom he’s never met, the long-delayed punch line is beyond obvious. And the direction by Bryan Gordon and former child star Fred Savage — who clearly will never top his magisterial efforts helming the Cuba Gooding Jr. comedy sequel Daddy Day Camp (yes, Virginia…sarcasm) — barely rises above serviceable, though the sun-burnished Sin City locales do make for some attractive scenery.

The whole series can be summed up in the image of Arnold’s character huffing and puffing his way through a distended chase scene in the Las Vegas desert. Everyone and everything onscreen is beyond tired. But then, you probably should know your show ain’t up to snuff when the best gags are courtside cameos by Penn Jillette and Carrot Top.

Twitter: @keithuhlich