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Dropping the Balls With ABC's 'Man Up!'
October 17, 2011  | By Ed Bark

ABC probably has already steeled itself for the Acapulco cliff dive in the ratings from Tim Allen's Last Man Standing to the nowhere men of Man Up!

Allen's re-do of Home Improvement got critically panned. But thanks in no small part to his household name, it opened pretty big in last week's national Nielsens. Man Up!, premiering Tuesday after LMS, is a bit better comedy, but without any built-in star power. It furthers this season's notion that males are either an emasculated or blowhard gender best played for laughs.

Man Up!'s star players are weepy Craig (co-executive producer Christopher Moynihan), tantrum-prone Kenny (Dan Fogler) and mild insurance salesman Will (Mather Zickel), whom his wife, Theresa (Teri Polo) chides as "mannish" at best.

The three of them are first seen playing a video war game as though they were all hard-core Chesty Pullers. In real life, bearded, chubby, bitterly divorced Kenny is the resident Zach Galifianakis, Craig still pines for his newly married ex-girlfriend, and Will worries that his bespectacled 13-year-old-son, Nathan (Jake Johnson), is shaping up to be an even bigger wuss.

A broadly drawn, super-brawny black man is thrown in to balance the scales a bit. His name is Grant (Henry Simmons), and he's newly dating Kenny's ex, Brenda (Amanda Detmer). This prompts Kenny to regularly kvetch and sputter, which he does in fairly amusing fashion.

The pilot episode otherwise is built around Craig's hopeless efforts to woo his ex-girlfriend back by strumming and singing their song, Brown-Eyed Girl, after busting into her wedding ceremony. A pack of much manlier groomsmen then give chase, arriving en masse at Nathan's first birthday party as a teenager. Will Will and company man up? Not that you're likely to give a whit.

The whole enterprise seems way too wobbly to walk upright under its own power. Man Up! may cause your lip to curl upward a few times before giving way to a grin. But any full-blown laughs seem well beyond its reach.


Read more by Ed Bark at unclebarky.com



Rich said:

The problem with this series (and the trend of "Stupid Male"/Man-Child comedies) is simple. Hollywood can not both control cultural perception and goof on it at the same time.

Certainly one could devise characters that are actually satirical, clever, or interesting but then Hollywood also knows that TV creates "Culture"- They don't want to give rise to the very "Types" of characters that in real life they 'despise' or want to invalidate.

Case in point, Alex P. Keaton of "Family Ties"- he initially was designed to be the evil capitalist Neo-Con that was supposed to be the butt of jokes under his proud Democrat parents and instead became a hero to the Right. He was both polarizing and witty. Hence TV will avoid propping up character types it fears might be imitated. This is also done with ethnic types of all varieties.

TV Land is like "High School" only they get to choose 'who is cool' and popular by controlling the character choices. It's just a theory of mine. I haven't seen clever Men of the "Maxim Mag" age since BBC America's "Coupling"...and look what NBC did that show! Men are either: Sensitive, Rebels, Jocks, Geeks, Man-whores or a flavor of Evil racist 'Insert-Message' here types.

The average male is now a buffoon of sorts in the realm of "TV Comedy"- this is why these half-baked comedies fail, and cleverly written men like Barney Stintson (Neil Patrick Harris) and Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons) carry an entire show - they were organicly created & grown. As opposed to the 'Sea-Monkeys' TV usually offers.

Just an opinion & Theory.

Comment posted on October 20, 2011 8:05 AM

Teshai said:

Seriously, the show is hilarious. One of the few comedies on television that has me laughing out loud. People tend to forget that television is for entertainment, not every show must teach you a leason or speak about the current mess the world is in.

This is a show to help you relax after a stressful day.

Hope it last!!

Comment posted on October 26, 2011 12:34 PM
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