ABC 2011-12 comedies, first impressions: Men, women and men dressed as women
Three of the five new ABC comedies -- "Last Man Standing," "Man Up" and "Work It" -- deal with the idea of men feeling emasculated in one way or another. The first two (which will be paired on Tuesdays in the fall) opt to rage against the dying of the manly light, while "Work It" takes an if-you-can't-beat-'em-join-'em approach, a la "Bosom Buddies."
Will they strike a chord with the males of America (and the women who love and/or tolerate them)? We'll find out in a few months. Here are our first impressions of the Alphabet's new comedies.
"Last Man Standing"
The man in the title is Tim Allen, who's playing an older, less grunty variation on his "Home Improvement" character, a family man surrounded by a house full of women. "Last Man Standing" looks like a family sitcom cut from a traditional pattern -- live audience, laugh track, put-upon husband. If you're a fan of Allen's work, it will probably be right in your wheelhouse. If not, well ... We will say that based on what we saw, it doesn't look like Allen and his co-stars (including Nancy Travis as his wife) overplay it too much, and the fact that it was created by "30 Rock" writer/producer Jack Burditt gives us some hope that it will be a solid show.
If you watched "Traffic Light" this season on FOX, you have a more-than-passing idea of what "Man Up" is going to look like next season on ABC. Three guys ( Mather Zickel, creator Christopher Moynihan and Dan Fogler) in various relationship situations try to figure out the following question (we're quoting ABC here): "What does it really mean to be a guy anymore"? Apparently it means not being able to yell while playing "Call of Duty" with your buds, lest you wake the kids.
"Suburgatory" (watch a clip)
Easily our favorite of ABC's comedy previews. "Suburgatory" is told through the eyes of 16-year-old Tessa ( Jane Levy, "Shameless"), whose well-meaning dad George ( Jeremy Sisto) moves her from New York City to the 'burbs after worrying about bad influences in the big city. Once they get to their new home, though, it becomes clear that their suburban idyll is more "Real Housewives" than "Brady Bunch." As we said in the clip post linked above, Levy comes across as kind of a live-action Daria, which in our book is a very good thing. It also feels like a pretty good fit on Wednesdays between "The Middle" and "Modern Family."
Late fall/midseason shows:
"Apartment 23" (watch clips)
A comedy about an avaricious party girl ( Krysten Ritter), her not-as-naive-as-she-looks new roommate ( Dreama Walker) and James Van Der Beek as "himself" sounds pretty good on paper. Yet we're of two very different minds about it. The clips linked above make us think we'll be tuning in when it arrives, but the trailer the network showed at its upfront presentation felt pretty limp. We'll probably be in wait-and-see mode until we can take in the full pilot.
"Work It" (watch a clip)
"Work It" would have you believe that things are so tough for guys out there that our two heroes ( Ben Koldyke and Amaury Nolasco) would be forced to dress as women in order to land a decent job -- which is probably news to a lot of women who still make, on average, about 75 or 80 cents for every dollar men earn. We're not sure how that statistic applies to dudes in drag, but the fact that we're thinking about that rather than the jokes on screen probably isn't a good sign.
Which of ABC's new comedies are you looking forward to most?