If the last TV season taught viewers anything, it’s that shows with first names for titles just don’t fly. As if “Joey” and “Rodney” weren’t enough to prove this theory, ABC breaks out “Freddie,” starring perhaps one of the most over exposed yet under-achieved stars today, Freddie Prinze Jr. The highly unoriginal and altogether mundane show all but guarantee a quick, painful death.

The sitcom’s premise has the main character, Freddie, a big-shot head-chef at a popular Chicago restaurant, living in an up-scale condo in the most complicated of situations. His two sisters, grandmother and, inexplicably, the wife of his dead brother, all live with him – together they attempt to make up the Puerto Rican equivalent of the Greek household in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” As if there weren’t enough women around already, Freddie and his best friend Chris (Brian Austin Green, “Beverly Hills: 90210”) spend every waking moment in pursuit of dates – and the result is a supposedly uproarious, ethnically witty comedy.

Unfortunately the set-up is too phony to be taken seriously, even for a second. The barrage of supposedly ethnic flavor seems forced and unreal. Though the cast breaks into Spanish dialogue every now and then and some characters even have an accent, the presence of quintessential pretty-boy Prinze gets in the way of an authentic feel. In its attempt to portray the life of Puerto Rican-Americans, the show ends up portraying overdone, mainstream American themes acted out by Hispanic people.

Any time now, the glorious day will come when the writers of mediocre sitcoms realize that there is more male characters could be doing other than just chasing women. “Freddie” is not so enlightened, and the two male leads continually hatch out one lame scheme after another to land various women. You’d think that as the head chef at some big-time restaurant, Freddie would actually have to go in and work some nights. But no, he just sits around the house playing Pictionary with his relatives and, of course, his prospective girlfriend.

Setting the table for one of America’s favorite shows, “Lost,” “Freddie” garnered a far wider audience in its premiere than it deserved. Its largely unfunny and unimpressive themes, forced acting and annoying laugh track make it a show audiences should make a point to ignore.

If this truly were Prinze’s last shot at legitimacy, then off he goes to the celebrity-reject land of other failed film stars who couldn’t salvage their careers on TV.

Rating: 1.5 out of 5 stars

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