[In case you’ve Forgotten, and as I will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots.]
Show: “Last Man Standing,” ABC
The Pitch: Tim Allen is The Last Real American Man.
Quick Response: Well, it’s better than “Hank.” That was my key source of pleasure coming out of “Last Man Standing.” The premises are so similar you’d have thought/hoped that somebody at ABC would have the sense to steer clear, but this is a new administration at ABC and they bring their own sense of hubris. So once again we have well-respected veteran of comedy hits returning to TV to play a family man struggling with a world he doesn’t understand, specifically struggling with understanding the roles played by men and women in This Crazy Modern World of Ours. “Hank” was misguided because not only was it 100 percent unfunny, but the main character was actively detestable. Tim Allen is smarter than that. His “Last Man Standing” character isn’t hatable, he’s just confused by so many things in the world around him. He doesn’t get soccer. He doesn’t get fantasy sports. He doesn’t know what “Glee” is. He doesn’t get why teenage girls dress like harlots or why people spend so much darned time on the Internet. He hunts! He fishes! And he wants everybody around him to understand that things used to be better back when men were men and women were women. And he’s got an attractive, long-suffering wife (Nancy Travis) who stands around with her hands on her hips giving her hubby “Oh, you!” eyes, because she’s the wife in a multi-camera sitcom. The best thing Allen does is keep you from hating his character entirely. The best thing Travis does is keep you from pitying her character. Neither stands out as “good,” but I absolutely respect the effort they had to put into those minor victories. The supporting cast is populated by people who deserve better, particularly Hector Elizondo and Kaitlyn Dever, who should have gotten an Emmy for “Justified” and instead gets to play the Ariel Winter (from “Modern Family”) daughter on a much worse show. Every joke is telegraphed. Every punchline is predictable. This is the sort of comedy where the father says to his kids “Whoever said life was supposed to be fair?” and says it with utter earnestness. But I guess I’d compliment “Last Man Standing” as being broad, predictable, lazy and unamusing but not grating and shameful. And yes, ABC can take that as a pull-quote.
Desire To Watch Again: A cursory second viewing is likely. A third viewing is doubtful.
Take Me To The Pilots ’11: CBS’ ‘Two Broke Girls’
Take Me To The Pilots ’11: NBC’s ‘Up All Night’
Take Me To The Pilots ’11: ABC’s ‘Revenge’
Take Me To The Pilots ’11: ABC’s ‘Once Upon a Time’
Take Me To The Pilots ’11: NBC’s ‘Awake’
Take Me To The Pilots ’11: FOX’s ‘I Hate My Teenage Daughter’
Take Me To The Pilots ’11: The CW’s ‘The Secret Circle’
Take Me To The Pilots ’11: CBS’ ‘Unforgettable’
Take Me To The Pilots ’11: NBC’s ‘The Playboy Club’
Take Me To The Pilots ’11: ABC’s ‘Charlie’s Angels’
Take Me To The Pilots ’11: NBC’s ‘Grimm’
Take Me To The Pilots ’11: FOX’s ‘New Girl’
Take Me To The Pilots ’11: The CW’s ‘Hart of Dixie’
Take Me To The Pilots ‘ 11: ABC’s ‘Apartment 23’
Take Me To The Pilots ’11: CBS’ ‘A Gifted Man’
All of last year’s Take Me To The Pilots installments.