Monday, October 17, 2011

ABC Fall Pilot Review: Man Up! - Premieres October 18; Charlie's Angels Canceled by ABC


Man Up!

Man Up! - Tuesdays 8:30PM ET/PT on ABC
Premieres Tuesday, October 18, 2011 at 8:30PM ET/PT


Will Keen's grandfather fought in WWII. Will's father fought in Vietnam. Will plays Call of Duty on his PlayStation 3 and uses non-dairy hazelnut creamer. So what happened to all the real men? They're still here -- they just smell like pomegranate body wash now.

Meet Will (Mather Zickel). His evolved, sensitive nature is why his awesome wife Theresa (Teri Polo) married him. But Will and his friends find themselves wondering -- in a world of body spray and manscaping -- what does it really mean to be a guy anymore? Will is more interested in finding the perfect gift for his son Nathan's (Jake Johnson) 13th birthday than in doing his job selling insurance, sensitive soul Craig (Christopher Moynihan) still pines for his college ex Lisa, and Kenny (Dan Fogler) clamps down on his anger and asks himself "What would Tobey Maguire do?" when his ex Brenda (Amanda Detmer) starts seeing a guy who is everything he's not (Henry Simmons). And though it may not come naturally, each new day brings these lovable beta males another opportunity to Man Up and be like their forefathers.

In the vein of The Hangover, Man Up! is the virile new comedy from writer/producer/actor Christopher Moynihan (100 Questions), executive producer Victor Fresco (Better Off Ted), and director Beth McCarthy-Miller (SNL, 30 Rock), that follows the struggles of three modern male archetypes as they search for their identities and try to prove that "real men" really can use hazelnut creamer.

Cast Details:

Mather Zickel as Will Keen
Dan Fogler as Kenny Hayden
Christopher Moynihan as Craig Griffith
Teri Polo as Theresa Hayden Keen
Amanda Detmer as Brenda Hayden
Henry Simmons as Grant Sweet
Jake Johnson as Nathan Keen
Charlotte Labadie as Lucy Keen

Mather Zickel (Will Keen) has appeared in a wide variety of film and television roles, including as Kieran in Rachel Getting Married and as District Attorney Mike Powers in Reno 911! on Comedy Central. He also appears in the Adult Swim series Delocated. A New York native, Zickel's first major role was his memorable portrayal of Bill Murray in the ABC telefilm, Gilda Radner: It’s Always Something.

Making an exceptional transition from theater to film, Tony Award-winning actor Dan Fogler (Kenny Hayden) was most recently seen on screen in Take Me Home Tonight, opposite Topher Grace and Anna Faris, and in Disney's Mars Needs Moms, opposite Seth Green. In 2009 Fogler starred in Taking Woodstock, as well as Love Happens, opposite Aaron Eckhart and Jennifer Aniston. He made his directorial film debut with Hysterical Psycho at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival, and has since created a comic book series entitled Moon Lake based on the feature that debuted this past October.

Fogler's other film credits include Balls of Fury, Kung Fu Panda, Horton Hears a Who, The Marconi Brothers and Good Luck Chuck. He won a Tony Award in 2005 for his performance as William Barfee in the Broadway production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, and was also honored with the Outer Critics Circle, The Lortel, Drama Desk for Best Ensemble and Theatre World Awards for his portrayal. Fogler returned to the New York stage in the fall of 2006 in Dan O’Brien’s The Voyage of the Carcass. He had previously appeared in off-Broadway and regional productions, including The Voyage of the Carcass, Bobby Gould in Hell, Joe Fearless, Crepuscule, Bridges and Harmonies, White Devil and Dilettantes & Debutantes.

Creator, executive producer and co-star Christopher Moynihan (Craig Griffith) is at the forefront of a generation of actors with thriving careers as writers as well. After co-starring in the series Coupling, Moynihan wrote and starred in his first television pilot, Foster Hall. Following that experience, he sold several other television pitches until he created and starred in the midseason comedy 100 Questions, which ran in Summer 2010. Additional television credits include Fighting Fitzgeralds, House, Boston Legal and Psych. Moynihan can also be seen in the last two Christopher Guest installments, A Mighty Wind and For Your Consideration.

Teri Polo (Teresa Hayden Keen) is best known for her role as Robert De Niro's daughter, Pam Byrnes, in the Meet the Parents theatricals. She recently starred in Little Fockers, the third installment of the movie franchise, and has completed production on the feature Beyond, opposite Jon Voight, to be released in 2012. Currently she is shooting the Lifetime movie Jayne's Story, which will air in early 2012.

Polo was seen the Hallmark movie Taste of Romance, which was released this past May, and has been recurring on Law & Order: Los Angeles. Other recent credits include the feature film The Hole, directed by Joe Dante, and the miniseries The Storm, both released in 2010. Earlier credits include Beyond Borders, co-starring Angelina Jolie, the suspense thriller The Unsaid, opposite Andy Garcia, and Domestic Disturbance, opposite John Travolta and Vince Vaughn. She also co-starred opposite De Niro and Ben Stiller in Meet the Parents, for which she won a People’s Choice Award, and in its sequel, Meet the Fockers.

Polo made her primetime debut in the dramatic series TV 101. Television audiences may remember her as Michelle Capra in Northern Exposure. She also starred in the comedy series I'm with Her, as well as David E. Kelley's The Wedding Bells. Other TV credits include Hallmark's Love Is a Four-Letter Word, the original film Second String, opposite Jon Voight, and the television movie Straight from the Heart. She was nominated for an Emmy Award for her role opposite Jimmy Smits on The West Wing.

On television, Amanda Detmer (Brenda Hayden) starred as Deena Greco in the critically well-received series What About Brian, and had a recurring role as Morgan Gellman on Private Practice. She is currently recurring as Jeanette on the USA Network's Necessary Roughness. Recent television guest starring roles have included Vampire Diaries, Medium, Psych and Law & Order: Criminal Intent.

Her first major role was starring as a cop opposite Craig T. Nelson and Richard Krenna in the 1999 NBC miniseries, To Serve and Protect, the story of three generations of Dallas police officers. Detmer's film credits include You, Me & Dupree, Big Fat Liar, Saving Silverman, Final Destination, The Majestic and Drop Dead Gorgeous. She also appeared in the independent features AmericanEast, American Crude and Jam. Additional television credits include the Lifetime telefilm Proof of Lies, CSI Miami, Miss Match, and the telefilms Picking Up, Dropping Off and Stolen Innocence.

Nurturing an impressive body of work that encompasses film and television, Henry Simmons' (Grant Sweet) career continues to evolve with exciting and challenging projects. Simmons soon will be seen starring in the independent feature From the Rough, opposite Taraji Henson. He starred opposite Robin Williams in the independent film World's Greatest Dad, directed by Bobcat Goldthwait, and also appeared in Lifetime's Golden Globe-nominated Georgia O'Keeffe, opposite Jeremy Irons and Joan Allen. Other recent television work includes the CBS drama Shark, created by Oscar-winning producer Brian Grazer.

Simmons quickly garnered attention when he joined the cast of ABC's long running and critically-acclaimed series, NYPD Blue. His character, Detective Baldwin Jones, was only supposed to be in a few episodes, but executive producer Steven Bochco was impressed with Simmons' skills and made him a series regular. Other television credits include starring roles in the miniseries Spartacus, the television film Lackawanna Blues and guest starring roles in the series Pepper Dennis, New York Undercover, Swift Justice and The Cosby Mysteries. Segueing effortlessly between the big and small screens, Simmons starred in the film South of Pico, which took home the grand jury prize for Best Picture at the 2007 American Black Film Festival. Simmons also won the festival’s Actor Award for his performance in the film. Additional feature credits include Madea's Family Reunion, Something New, Taxi, Are We There Yet?, The Insurgents and Above the Rim.

Jake Johnson (Nathan Keen) began his acting career at the age of 7. His mother saw that he had a natural ability for acting and took him to a manager, who thought he had an incredible gift. His new manager took him to an agent, who was thrilled to jump on board and complete his team. Johnson soon began to land jobs. His television credits include ICarly, Little Monk, ER, Cold Case, Bones, Saving Grace, Without a Trace, Funny or Die, Jimmy Kimmel Live and Gary Unmarried. Film credits include Holiday Heist, The Attic Door, Ball Don't Lie, Let's Play and Goal, as well as Disney's Spooky Buddies, which was one of his favorite films to make. Johnson has also performed in more than 40 National commercials. He is recognized on the street for one of his most recent commercials, the tear jerker spot for Kay Jewelers.

Up until now the only famous person to hail from Bay City, Michigan, has been Madonna. Now Charlotte Labadie (Lucy Keen) hopes she will be the second! Labadie spent her first five years there, moving to Los Angeles right after kindergarten. It was her older sister, Elle, who had dreams of a showbiz career, but Charlotte quickly got the acting bug and begged her mom to let her go out on auditions. Her first audition was for a Disney commercial. More commercials and print jobs followed, and then Labadie began pursuing movies and TV roles. She did several short films, one of which went to the Cannes Film Festival, as well as a stint on the ABC series Cougar Town. She can also be seen in Transformers: Dark of the Moon, the only child in the Michael Bay-directed film.

Pilot Plot:

"Pilot" - Will is more interested in finding the perfect gift for his son Nathan's (Jake Johnson) 13th birthday than in doing his job selling insurance. His best friend, sensitive soul Craig (Christopher Moynihan), still pines for his college ex, Lisa. Will's brother-in-law, Kenny (Dan Fogler), clamps down on his anger and asks himself, "What would Tobey Maguire do?," when his ex-wife, Brenda (Amanda Detmer), starts seeing a guy who is everything he's not and much better looking (Henry Simmons). After Craig crashes Lisa's wedding to try to win her back, they are all faced with an opportunity to "man up" and be like their forefathers.

Written by Christopher Moynihan
Directed by Beth McCarthy-Miller
Guest stars: Jim Devoti as the groom, Chryssie Whitehead as Lisa, Amber Montana as Samantha and F. William Parker as the preacher

Analysis:

Man Up! is from writer/executive producer/actor Christopher Moynihan, executive producer Victor Fresco (Better Off Ted), and Ron West and Kelly Kulchak of Tagline Television (Psych). It is produced by ABC Studios. Man Up! is broadcast in 720 Progressive (720P), ABC's selected HDTV format, with 5.1-channel surround sound. This is a single-camera comedy. There is no added laugh track. The show is set in Gahanna, Ohio.

The pilot opens with Will, Kenny and Craig playing the online Call of Duty video game. Will asks them what he should buy for his son's 13th birthday. In a flashback scene, Craig talks to his college ex, Lisa. Kenny is told by Will that his ex Brenda will be at the birthday party. Will opens a package that has a violent video game that Theresa bought for his birthday. Kenny tells Theresa that Brenda can't come to the party. Kenny confronts Brenda and doesn't want her to be there. Will asks him what "What would Tobey Maguire do?" and Kenny fumes when he learns Brenda is bringing a date to the party. Will talks to Kenny and Craig at his office. Brenda introduces Grant, a former underwear model, to everybody at the party. Kenny and Greg play basketball. Nate comes in and tells Will and Theresa that Greg bought him a shaving kit. On their way to the mall, the trio of guys stop at a church where Lisa is getting married. Craig brings in a guitar and sings "Brown Eyed Girl" and they crash the wedding. A funny scene then happens when they get back to the house. Will later surprises Nate with his birthday gift. The pilot closes like it opened with a scene of the guys talking and playing a video game.

This is a pretty enjoyable pilot. It's well directed. There are some similarities in the style to The Hangover. There are many different scenes at various locations. There's a lot of quick editing and scenes don't drag on at all. Only one flashback type sequence is used in the pilot. I would expect to see more in future episodes. The trio of guys seem to have good chemistry and are very believable as a group of friends. Dan Folger was really the only guy I was familiar with his from his film work, but the other two seem to also have some good comedic timing. The recurring joke of "What would Tobey Maguire do?" and the catchphrase unfluffin' believable are funny. It's great to see Teri Polo on another ABC comedy. I loved her on the short-lived I'm with Her. The supporting cast does a nice job. The two child actors seem very natural. Hopefully they will get more screen time in future episodes. Henry Simmons steals every scene he is in. The ladies will like him for his voice and physique. The show makes some nice use of score and music to enhance some scenes.

Conclusion:

Man Up! has a funny and entertaining pilot. It has some promise and room to develop. There's a little bit of Modern Family in the show, but it's more of a buddy type comedy. The cast is likable and seem to have some good chemistry already in the pilot. It will be interesting to see what kinds of outrageous situations these characters will get themselves involved in. Dan Fogler's Kenny Hayden character is the funniest of the trio and could be one of the break-out characters of the season. His delivery of lines, facial expressions and mannerisms are hilarious. He just has one of those recognizable faces that will make you laugh. I thought that he was very funny in movies like Balls of Fury, Fanboys and Good Luck Chuck. He's one of those supporting actors who is capable of stealing scenes in his films. He reminds me of Danny McBride. It's nice to Fogler him in a lead TV role. Teri Polo is also a welcome member of the cast. She doesn't really have many lines in the pilot, so hopefully we'll see more of her in future episodes.

Tuesdays at 8:00-9:00pm will be a manly hour of comedies of ABC with Last Man Standing and Man Up!. I wasn't sure how a single-camera sitcom would work after a traditional multi-camera sitcom, but I think these two will form a nice pair. They both have a similar men theme and have the same types of jokes. While the show is more geared towards men, women should also be able to relate to some situations. It will be interesting to see how many of Last Man Standing's 13+ million viewers will return this week. Man Up! should receive some nice sampling because there are really no other comedies on at the same time. Men will be boys in this new outrageous buddy comedy.

Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):

Watchability: 3/5
Funniness: 3.5/5
Overall: 3/5

-- Reviewed by Todd Fuller on 10/17/11

Discuss the show after you watch it on Tuesday, October 18 on our message board.

Related Links:

  • ABC.com Official Site
  • TV.com
  • epguides.com
  • Internet Movie Database
  • Wikipedia
  • Man Up! Photo Gallery

    Preview:







    ABC has halted production on the new version of Charlie's Angels, which airs Thursdays at 8/7 central. The series has aired four episodes so far and hasn't had any ratings magic. Despite the action and young cast (and the stunning Minka Kelly), the series didn't produce strong 18-49 ratings (it did do well in men over 55 though). The series has four episodes left to air that are completed and ABC plans on airing them. So yes, the series is canceled, but you can still watch the remaining four episodes on ABC, with the first confirmed to air this Thursday (Oct. 20) at 8/7 central with guest star John Terry (Lost). Next week (Oct. 27), ABC already had scheduled the Halloween classic It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (one Charlie to another!), so the remaining three episodes are "scheduled" to air Nov. 3, 10 and 17, but it depends on if ABC has something up their sleeves for sweeps or not. If they do, these three episodes will not air until likely December, if at all.
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    As for the other networks, CBS has picked-up a full season of 2 Broke Girls. Still waiting their fate are Unforgettable, Person of Interest and A Gifted Man. My guess is Person of Interest will be picked-up while the other two will have to wait a bit. CBS has canceled new comedy How To Be A Gentleman, but are burning the remaining episodes off on Saturdays. For NBC, they picked-up comedies Up All Night and (not sure why) Whitney to full seasons. The fate for Prime Suspect hasn't been revealed, but the ratings have been very poor. NBC has already canceled and pulled Free Agents and The Playboy Club. On Fox, new comedy New Girl was picked-up for a full season, while The X Factor (finale on Dec. 22) and Terra Nova (season finale Dec. 19) have their runs set already, so no full season pick-ups are needed. Fox still has Sunday animated comedy Allen Gregory and new Wednesday comedy I Hate My Teenage Daughter to come later this fall. And finally The CW picked-up all three of its new dramas for the full season: Ringer, Hart of Dixie and Secret Circle, but they canceled reality entry H8R. Stay with us for further updates on the fate of the series who still need to know where they are headed after the initial 13 episodes.

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