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Spike TV's first original sitcom Factory is about four working-class guys who talk a lot about sex, but otherwise there's not much about the show that marks it as especially Spike-ish. It's a very low-key kind of comedy, built around semi-improvised chatter and subtle character distinctions. It has more in common with something like Corner Gas than with MXC.

The main problem with Factory's first episode–airing tonight at 10 PM eastern, and also available for free right now on iTunes and at the Spike website–is that while it has an amiable tone, it's never laugh-out-loud funny. The show's premise is simple: four small-town factory workers (played by improv vets Mitch Rouse, David Pasquesi, Jay Leggett and Michael Coleman) strive to minimize their work time and maximize their coffee breaks, so they can gripe about their wives and ex-wives and their go-nowhere occupation. None of these characters really feel like factory workers, nor does the comedy seem rooted in anything real. They all talk like stand-up comedians, gathering after a show to swap stories about who's the most pathetic.

The pilot episode establishes their loser bona fides by giving all four characters the chance to become the supervisor for their shift, after the former supervisor dies when his tie gets caught in a machine. After some indifferent jockeying for position–nothing that would qualify as a plot, or even a "situation"–they all decide that being charge would entail too much responsibility, and cut into their sit-around-and-talk time.

I think I laughed about twice during the first Factory: once when Rouse shoots back at an insult from one of his friends by grunting, "I'm a dick? You're my sack!" and once when a white lie about a sexually charged encounter grows into an elaborate softcore scenario the more the liar repeats the story. Otherwise, I didn't feel like these actors–who are also the show's producers and writers–put much effort into making the show more than merely adequate. In that, they're exactly like their characters.

Grade: C

Stray observations:

-One other way that Factory is Spike-like: In keeping with the network's beer commercial aesthetic, these homely schmoes have ridiculously attractive wives. I've actually known a few professional women in my life who were married to construction workers, but why these striking, poised and snappily dressed women are married to unambitious (and largely indifferent) blue collar types is a mystery that the pilot leaves unsolved.

-One moment of poignancy in the first episode: Rouse reflects on his life and briefly wishes that he'd been the one who'd been "sucked into the machine." If Factory explores those feelings of regret in future episodes, it has a chance to deepen, get darker, and maybe even get funnier. But first, Rouse and company are going to have to think of ways to connect these characters and their job to their own lives and experiences. "I know guys who sit around and talk like this" isn't really enough to hang a whole TV series on, unless you're Larry David or Jerry Seinfeld. It's what they talk about and why that makes a show unique.

-Though I thought this pilot was thoroughly average, I could see Factory getting better as it goes along. Sometimes it takes sitcoms a few episodes to find their rhythm, and being on cable–with lower expectations–can be freeing for a show like this one, allowing the creators to take more chances and offer a perspective that the big networks have squeezed out. There's room in this world for a show like Factory. Will its creators care enough to seize their space?