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News series review: Unhitched (Fox)

Premiering: Sunday, March 2nd, 8:30 p.m. (central) on Fox
Starring: Craig Bierko, Rashida Jones, Johnny Sneed, Shaun Majumder
Produced by: Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly, Bradley Thomas, Brad Johnson, Mike Sikowitz

Filmdom's Farrelly brothers aren't known to spare the rod -- especially when a dick joke's at stake.

That makes their first TV comedy series, Fox's Unhitched, something of a disconnect. Its borderline subtlety actually might be too rich for the youngbloods who made hits of There's Something About Mary, Dumb & Dumber and Shallow Hal.

Unhitched, unburdened by a laugh track, has situations that sound typically Bobby and Peter Farrelly. It's not exactly Frasier when your comedy opens with a newly divorced guy in his 30s encountering a date who has a pet monkey and wants him to go ape with her -- literally.

Still, the four principal characters also are surprisingly relatable as relatively likable humanoids rebounding from failed marriages. That's particularly true of Jack "Gator" Gately (Craig Bierko), a hunky guy on the make who's more pussycat than horn dog.

His best pals, forming something of a Seinfeld-esque quartet, are ill-kempt Tommy (Johnny Sneed), refined Kate (Rashida Jones) and the still socially awkward Dr. Freddy Sahgal (Shaun Majumder). OK, it's a stretch to imagine them meshing in real life. But this is TV, where opposites supposedly attract audiences.

Sunday's premiere includes a guest appearance by Johnny (Jackass) Knoxville who fittingly plays a pimp. There's also a cameo by Boston Celtics star Paul Pierce, who greets Kate and her latest date at their courtside seats. She's impressed until the guy reveals the reason why he's so palsy walsy with the players.

A second episode finds Gator dating a beautiful blonde whose only imperfection is a shrimp-shaped "skin tag" on her back. Dr. Freddy befriends an oversized male bouncer whose impressions include "an amazing Dakota Fanning." And Kate takes up with a "rock star" who turns out to be a self-deluded air guitarist.

Unhitched will be following Family Guy, which in this case is akin to Beerfest being paired with Pygmalion. At best, the new Fox entry is pleasantly amusing and virtually bereft of gross-out humor. That's not gonna cut it with fart joke afficionadoes, which in the end may be the new show's biggest problem. Sometimes you can just be "too adult."

Grade: B-minus