Preview: Clipped 1×1 (US: TBS)

TBS's Clipped

In the US: Tuesdays, 10/9c, TBS. Starts June 16

Time was you know that someone’s career either on the downslide or had never existed if their sitcom was on TV Land. But it seems that supposed comedy network TBS, which was actually starting to look quite promising with the likes of Ground Floor and Wedding Band, has decided to try to poach this ‘honour’. We’ve already had to endure Your Family Or Mine this year and now we have Clipped, which makes that travesty look like The Chapelle Show.

The basic premise of Clipped is both simple and forced: a bunch of Bostonians who all went to the same High School but largely didn’t hang out together all end up over the river in Charlestown, Massachusetts, working in the same hairdressers, Buzzy’s.

Buzzy’s, despite being outfitted like a barber shop and having a male boss and three male stylists, but only a female receptionist and two female stylists, is actually a unisex salon. Can you see that queue of women forming to go in? Of course, you can. Because there they are, despite all probability, on your TV screen getting haircuts that make them look like “my 70-year-old dad who has to smoke through a hole in his neck”. Appealing, non?

But the women come for one thing – one man, even. For reasons not thoroughly explained in this pilot episode, one of the skinniest of the male barber-hairdressers is a babe-magnet and professional-level baseball player and he’s just had a call from his agent; coincidentally, the insurance premiums have just gone up at Buzzy’s and the short, not at all Danny DeVito-esque boss of the shop leaves it up to the staff to work out among themselves whom to fire. Should he leave? And how will the female stylist who secretly loves him take it?

Clipped was originally called Buzzy’s Barbershop and then Buzzy’s and it’s clear from this that deciding on the title for the show is where all the creative effort went, because it’s like something you might find in a cat’s litter tray the day you come home to discover Tiddles has been licking away at Friday’s leftover curry. This is strange because it was created by Will and Grace’s David Kohan and Max Mutchnick. I say Will and Grace’s but it’s better to think of them as Partners’ David Kohan and Max Mutchnick, because that’ll give you a stronger flavour of the show’s contemporary and realistic nature, cutting edge humour and superb casting choices. Not at all on the downslope of their careers. Not at all.

Despite having that slightly noxious, cat excrement quality to it, Clipped has somehow managed to attract both Ashley Tisdale and George Wendt to its cast. Tisdale looked to be doing just fine post-High School Musical when she landed up in Hellcats, but clearly something’s gone terribly wrong since. And Wendt, who was of course Norm in Cheers, clearly has some bills to pay or a new yacht to buy, because here he’s playing a gay hairdresser who’s been in a relationship with Die Hard’s Reginald Veljohnson so long that the other hairdressers’ nickname for him is ‘Brokehip Mountain’ – gay hairdressers being a novelty in Charlestown, apparently.

The show fails at just about every level. I don’t think I laughed once in the entire pilot. Not once. It’s insulting to gay people, short people and the working class. The acting’s poor. No one is well cast, particularly the baseball-playing Mike Castle. There are even fewer Boston/Charlestown accents on display than in The McCarthys. It doesn’t even convince as a vision of life in a barber’s – sorry, unisex hair salon. How can you fail to get even that right?

About the only thing that was any good was the romantic sub-plot, but that’s just going to be two young ‘uns trying hard not to show their feelings, despite both knowing them, for about a season and a half to two seasons or longer, and who has time for that these days?

All in all, you’d be much better off in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.