Hello Ladies

HBO, Sunday, Sept. 29, 10:30 p.m.

Stephen Merchant — best known as Ricky Gervais’s partner in crime — steps out into his own with Hello Ladies, co-created with a pair of producers from the U.S. version of The Office, Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg. It’s the first starring role for the 6-foot, 7-inch British actor, who plays Stuart Pritchard, a gawky, awkward Web developer from the U.K. now living in L.A. Stuart is obsessed with finding a place in the glamorous world of L.A. nightlife, and specifically with L.A. women. The first two episodes center around his clumsy, unsuccessful attempts to ingratiate himself with the ladies. His attempts to get into the best clubs and seduce beautiful actresses are — you guessed it — cringeworthy.

For such a premise to hit on all cylinders, though, there needs to be that slight bit of vulnerability that makes you relate to and root for our hero. Stuart across as too obvious and aggressive to elicit much sympathy, though. He’s also not much of a schlub: He’s got a beautiful house in the Hollywood Hills, which he shares with tenant Jessica (Christine Woods), an aspiring actress who’s often his foil. Filling out the regulars are Stuart’s best friend, Wade, whose wife just left him and who can’t stop crying about it; and Kives (Kevin Weisman), a paraplegic buddy of Wade who’s got game with the women, much to Stuart’s chagrin.