’Saint George’ leaves a sour taste

By Neil Genzlinger / New York Times News Service

At times over the last dozen years, George Lopez has often seemed as if he were waging a one-man crusade against the dismaying underrepresentation of Latinos on mainstream English-language television in the United States. First there was his sitcom “George Lopez.” Then came “Lopez Tonight,” his spunky late-night talk show.

It’s great that he has been able to achieve prominence, but he’s doing the cause no favors with “Saint George,” a wearying sitcom that starts Thursday on FX. Here, if the premiere episode is any indication, Lopez seems merely to be recycling setups from other anemic comedies and, if anything, making them worse.

As in his earlier sitcom, he plays a fictional character named George Lopez. This George is a divorced father whose ex-wife (Jenn Lyon) apparently hasn’t gone far, because she turns up in every other scene. Also around a lot are George’s uncle (Danny Trejo) and cousin (David Zayas), who in the opening episode try to get George to start dating again.

Their view of women is not exactly refined, something that could also be said of whoever came up with the character of Concepcion (Diana Maria Riva), the crass, sex-obsessed assistant principal at a school where George teaches night classes. The idea seems to be to set George up as a paragon in a lowbrow world, but the whole series has the sour feel of “We Are Men,” which tried the single-guys-on-the-make thing last fall and failed quickly.