Pass on this “Free Ride”

Here’s the truth about Fox’s new sitcom “Free Ride”: the commercials for the show are pretty funny, but that’s about it.

“Free Ride” follows recent college graduate Nate Stahlings (newcomer Josh Dean) as he makes the transition from University of California-Santa Barbara back to small-town Missouri life when he decides to move back in with his parents. Moments after arriving home, Nate finds that his parents are in serious marriage therapy, his room has been turned into a gym and an air mattress on the garage floor is his new home.

Nate runs into his pretty former high school classmate Amber Danwood (Erin Cahill), now a bank teller, and soon thinks that he’s found “the one.” Much to his dismay, when he finally gets up the nerve to ask her out, she replies, “I’m engaged.”

Nate’s parents (played by Loretta Fox and Allan Havey) are messed up, sexually frustrated, a little too open and are reminiscent of “Happy Family’s” parental duo John Laroqutte and Christine Baranski, but funnier, more attractive and more believable.

Television is a confusing thing – some great shows get cancelled and some shows (such as “The Bachelor,” which is in its eighth season) stay on the air season after season, making viewers ask, “When will it end?” “Free Ride” may be a surprise hit and gain the fans of the fallen “Arrested Development,” but it’s not likely.

Can theater actor Josh Dean handle the small screen and imminent small ratings? So far, his acting is okay, but pretty soon Dean will be hosting “Saturday Night Live” and pull that SNL Jason Bateman (“Arrested Development”) line, “I’m from that Fox show. ‘Not American Idol.'”

“Idol” is on Fox, as well as “The O.C.,” “House,” and “24” (See ARTICLE, p. 7). But what else do they offer? How about you “Arrested Development” fans? “Reunion” watchers? “Boston Public” lovers? No, we haven’t forgotten about those shows, even though Fox wants us to forget all of the great shows that they got us hooked on just so they could yank them off the air midseason, making us watch new showsl ike “The Loop” and “Free Ride.”

If you’re looking for something to watch on Sunday at 9:30 p.m. because you just can’t take anymore of that award-winning “Housewives” or that highly-rated “Law and Order: Criminal Intent,” then check out “Free Ride,” Sunday nights on Fox. Or, you could get your fill by seeing that 60-second teaser for the show five times during the breaks between “American Idol.”

“Free Ride” will have its season premiere on Fox on March 1 at 9:30 p.m.

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