There are a few I haven’t seen yet, and I’ve only seen one or two episodes of a few shows, but so far, this fall season has stunk to high heaven as far as new comedies go. I’m not sure there are any that I am going to watch on a regular basis save one: Man Up. Which I will watch a handful more episodes of, because that’s all there are. It has, of course, been canceled.

Man Up is one of three Men in Crisis shows coming out, which the press has made a big deal of. I haven’t seen the other two. One has not only already been canceled, but has already gone off the air. But Man Up is, or was, a winner. Partially because it’s not the woe-is-manhood demonstration that it was cracked up to be. The first episode centers on masculinity as the main character, Will Keen, tries to deal with what to give his about-to-be-a-man son. But from there it’s a three-sided buddy comedy with Keen, Star Wars fanatic Kenny, and mildly effeminate Craig.

The fourth guy in the picture is Grant, who is the boyfriend of Kenny’s ex-wife. Grant is the Total Package, as far as men go. He’s muscular, intelligent, excessively friendly, and both masculine and sensitive at the same time. He is sort of the metric that Keen, Kenny, and Craig find themselves trying and failing to match up against. I was afraid that Grant was going to be a one-off character, but it looks like he’s around for the long haul. He reminds me of some of the people I’ve known where you kind of stand around and try to figure out a reason that they’re not better than you, and all you can come up with is that they are irritating in their perfection. And that sort of suffices.

Keen’s relationship with his wife is partly – but only partly – the typical responsible-wife-helping-husband-along that you see in sitcoms. But Will Keen is competent enough, and Theresa Keen good enough, that I don’t find it particularly grating. Rather than simply rolling her eyes at her husband, works with him and tries to understand where he’s coming from. It’s a bonus that TK is played by Teri Polo, who is always pleasant to watch.

Kenny is a bit more stereotype than person and I would expect that over time that would be worked upon. His ex-wife is the second main-stay female. There is an interesting dynamic between the two of them where they were playground sweethearts and fell in love before either of them realized that she was way out of his league (landing her with Grant, who ought to be way out of hers). Bridgette is the “slutty friend” (to Theresa) and also needs to be worked on, character-wise. Craig is something of a non-entity thus far, mainly rounding out the set.

But thus far, the show has been funny without being excessively predictable. And though it rely on awkward moments, it has yet to get painful to watch as other laughtrackless comedies sometimes get. So it’s a show to keep an eye on, which is more than I can say for the other shows. Which, of course, means it has already being canceled.

My complaints about the other shows:

Whitney – The title character is irritating as hell. I like the boyfriend okay, though the reviews say he’s irritating as well and I’ve only seen the first episode. Excessive laughtrack, also.

Up All Night – I didn’t warm to either of the characters. I didn’t find it funny. It’s slow. Also, a show where the main character(s) are in the TV biz has a strike against it.

New Girl – Yes, Zoey Daschanel is quirky cute. I don’t know how worthwhile it is to build an entire show around that premise, though, and the supporting cast is roundly obnoxious.

2 Broke Girls – Spoiled Rich Girl meets Streetwise Poor Girl. Except the rich girl isn’t rich anymore. And they’re not girls, they’re cardboard stereotypes.

Okay, so I’ve only seen four new shows. But that’s a pretty low average, and these are the ones I thought I might like.


Category: Theater

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7 Responses to Man Down

  1. Kirk says:

    I didn’t make it through five minutes of “Whitney”. God, that’s one shit show.

  2. ? says:

    I have a post on Whitney coming out, but one of the interesting aspects of the show is how it inverts the “responsible-wife-helping-husband-along” dynamic: the title character is the one that’s kind of a mess, while the boyfriend is relatively pulled together.

  3. David Alexander says:

    Whitney

    If I come home early enough to watch the Office, the TV ends up staying on Whitney due to inertia until It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia comes on, so I’ve seen a few episodes, and within fives minutes of watching, it comes across as a rather annoying and silly show. I’m admittedly wondering how it manages to stay on TV, and who are the viewers that keep that show afloat.

    Otherwise, I haven’t seen any of the new shows that you’ve mentioned above. I’ve found that I just watch far less TV when compared to my youth, and that’s with a set-up box in my room for DirectTV, something that I didn’t have five years ago.

  4. trumwill says:

    Very astute observation, Phi. I hadn’t thought of it that way. It almost makes me want to give the show another chance. Almost.

  5. ? says:

    Okay, I just watched episodes 2 – 6 of New Girl on Hulu. The comic element seems to work well enough for me, and of course Zoey Deschanel is a delight, but . . . so we’re really supposed to believe that three guys, none of whom has an ongoing romantic relationship, are keeping house with this girl and there is no sexual tension!?! Gimme a break.

  6. ? says:

    Oops . . . episodes 3 – 6.

  7. trumwill says:

    I’ve seen the second episode, which was markedly better than the first. I might give this one a chance.

    I suspect that sexual attention will occur between ZD and the less douchy white guy. I agree, though that the lack of sexual attention is bizarre. Some shows have to manufacture sexual tension. This show seems to have to manufacture the absence of it.

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