The only conspiracy on FOX is who green-lighted this ill-conceived idea. Apparently they didn”t learn from the failure of “The Michael Richards Show” that spin-off shows with comic relief characters just don”t work (“Frasier” being one notable exception). Nonetheless, conspiracy theorists Byers (Bruce Harwood), Langly (Dean Haglund), and Frohike (Tom Braidwood) are taking their “The Lone Gunmen” newspaper and computer hacking expertise and setting up shop on Fridays.

Paul Wong
The Lone Gunmen and their spin-off cronies. The commies must be behind this trash.The Lone Gunmen and their spin-off cronies. The commies must be behind this trash.<br><br>Courtesy of Fox

Last week”s premiere began with a goofy send-up of Tom Cruise”s infamous descent from a ceiling (lowered via a rope, of course) from “Mission: Impossible.” Frohike tries to steal a chip with possible spy technology in it. Of course he fails, and the gorgeous solo spy Yves Adele Harlow (a sort of lone gunman in her own right) steals it.

After this rather odd opening, Byers, a former government man, questions what he is doing. He then gets a call explaining that his father died. Except he really didn”t die, he faked his death to throw off the government who is trying to kill him because of his knowledge of something to do with airline terrorism. Got it? If not, don”t worry. It didn”t really make much sense, and it won”t matter much later.

Admittedly, this show could turn around quickly and find its identity. But just when it seems to find a bright spot, it covers it up like a classified government file. Right now, the elusive Yves is the most interesting character. The fact that her name is an anagram of Lee Harvey Oswald (the original Lone Gunman) would have made for an interesting inside joke had it not been explained to the viewers right away and ruined.

Also, the fact that Byers” father”s “death” was shady didn”t shock anybody, but the most paranoid guys in America seemed shocked that the government was involved? What was up with that? Eleven years running articles about Teletubbies being evil, and they couldn”t figure that out on their own?

On this week”s episode, they introduce a new recurring character, Jimmy Bond. Stephen Snedden, who portrays the ditzy Bond, does have an impressive resume, including “Coyote Ugly.” It will take more than one character to save this show from crashing like a UFO in Area 51.

Ever since 1994″s “E.B.E.” episode of “The X-Files,” the trio have been fan favorites, but that”s because they provided comic relief for a serious show. However, they don”t have the depth and charisma for an entire series of sight gags involving Frohike being run over by a whole football team and Langly being kidnapped. Even rumored crossovers with “X-Files” characters like Assistant Director Skinner won”t solve what”s really behind the show”s struggles.

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