Somebody at Fox must have lost a bet, or is paying off a debt. There is no other explanation for how a worthless, humorless waste like “Life on a Stick” could show up on a network schedule, even Fox’s, in the 21st century.

This sitcom would have been lame even by the wondrous “Look, this radio has pictures” standards of the 1950s.

It is stupid enough to be insulting to your intelligence but not sufficiently stupid to be a mindless, guilty pleasure.

It’s a mystery how this series slid through the pitch, script and pilot phases. There hasn’t been a more inexplicable run since Justin Guarini on the first “American Idol.”

Even more baffling is why “Life on a Stick” has been given one of the most blessed time periods on TV, the half-hour following “American Idol’s” results show – unless it’s a really big bet or debt being paid off.

This is the worst waste of prime TV real estate since NBC scheduled a mess called “Grand” behind “Cheers” in 1990.

The lead characters are a couple of post-high school slackers, Laz and Fred, who would have to jack up their IQs by about 50 points to match Beavis and Butt-head. A typical exchange between them goes like this:

Fred: Did you hear me knocking?

Laz: Why?

Fred: Because I was knocking.

Lacking ambition as well as smarts, they have taken jobs working at a hot dog stand in a mall food court, the circumstance that gives the series its title. While it would be more charitable not to mention their names, Zachary Knighton plays Laz and Charlie Finn is Fred. Both are devoid of talent, charisma and charm. In fact, for TV, they’re not even that good-looking. Their jobs in the series might be their professional future.

Laz immediately falls in love with Lily, their only female co-worker. Lily thinks Laz is OK but she’s not looking for a relationship. Her preference, to use a term that has come into vogue, is “friends with benefits.” Rachelle Lefevre is fetchingly pretty as Lily but there are a dozen just like her in the background of any WB teen drama.

They have a typical sitcom boss, a screaming banshee named Mr. Hut, a character sure to elicit complaints. Overplayed by Maz Jobrani, Mr. Hut is an offensive caricature for anyone of Middle East descent.

Laz still lives at home with his folks, who don’t make him feel intelligence-challenged. His father, Rick, runs a cosmetics business out of the garage, which is also his hideout when any form of responsibility beckons. Rick is somewhat intimidated by Laz’s step-mom, Michelle, and totally intimidated by her daughter, not-so-sweet 16-year-old Molly.

Rick and Michelle have one child together, a typical TV prodigy named Gus, who one and all concede is the smartest person in the house. He’s only 9, but they’re right.

Amy Yasbeck, widow of John Ritter, is the most recognizable supporting player as Michelle. Matthew Glave is Rick, Saige Thompson is Molly and Frankie Ryan Manriquez is Gus.

Shows like this lead people to justify sitting through a merely mediocre sitcom because, “It’s not that bad.” “Life on a Stick” is the new reference point for what is “that bad.”

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