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Published Mar. 1, 2006

The next six weeks will feel like the start of a new TV season as the networks roll out a bunch of new sitcoms and dramas, some of them duds, some of them gems. St. Petersburg Times TV critic Chase Squires previews them all in Friday's Floridian, but today he provides a quick look at tonight's lone debut:

Free Ride, WTVT-Ch. 13, 9:30 tonight, moves to regular 9:30 p.m. Sunday time slot March 12. Grade: C-

Fox has proven that it can make an intelligent sitcom (all-but-officially-canceled Arrested Development and soon-to-premiere The Loop), so the network's first spring entry, Free Ride, is a disappointment and a major step backward. It's the story of recent college grad Nate Stahlings (relative newcomer Josh Dean), who goes back to live with his parents in Missouri. He hangs out with a partier from his high school days and pines for a girl he used to have a crush on.

The result is old jokes, tired situations, improbable dialogue and an all-around bargain-basement sitcom feel. Skip it.