Monday, January 02, 2012

ABC Mid-Season Pilot Review: Work It - Premieres January 3


Work It

Work It - Tuesdays 8:30PM ET/PT on ABC
Premieres Tuesday, January 3, 2012 at 8:30PM ET/PT

By Pavan

From Friends producers Andrew Reich & Ted Cohen comes Work It, a high-concept comedy about two unrepentant guy's guys who, unable to find work, dress as women to get jobs. Not only do they pull it off, but they just might learn to be better men in the process.

Lee Standish is a quick-witted and likable family man. His best friend, Angel Ortiz, is a hotheaded ladies' man with no filter. The two of them worked at Pontiac -- Lee as a top salesman and Angel as head mechanic -- until the company went out of business. Out of work for a year, their job prospects don't look too bright. They've learned the hard way that the current recession is more of a "man-cession" and their skills aren't in high demand. Then the almost-broke Lee finds out that Coreco Pharmaceuticals is looking to hire sales reps -- female sales reps. He takes a chance and goes into the interview dressed in heels, a skirt and make-up. The transformed Lee gets hired -- as a woman. Lee wants to stay true to his agreement with Angel that, if one of them is working, then the other will be too, so he tells Angel what he has to do if he wants a job at Coreco. Angel, who is miserable working at a fast-food dump, is desperate to make a change so he decides to swallow his pride and go for it. Unfortunately he tanks his interview, but when he fixes the boss' car, he too is hired – also as a woman.

To stay employed, Lee and Angel must put aside their alpha male selves and learn to navigate their all-female workplace. Their presence at Coreco with their new female coworkers initially raises a few eyebrows, but the company's two newest sales reps find ways to put almost everyone at ease: Enthusiastic and sometimes na├»ve Kristin is excited when the female Lee tells her that she, too, is a single mom. Kelly, the office party girl, is thrilled to have two more friends to hit the town with. Only Grace, the somewhat icy regional sales leader, keeps a suspicious eye on Lee and Angel, convinced that there's something seriously wrong with them. To complicate matters, when Angel meets their new boss, Vanessa, he is immediately smitten with her. But there are some serious obstacles in the way of their romance: She's his boss, and -- no small detail -- she thinks he’s a woman.

For his part, Lee can't disclose his feminine secret to his wife, Connie, or to their 14-year-old daughter, Kat, so he tells them he got a job at a drug company – as himself, the man he is. Connie notices that, since Lee has begun working at Coreco, he seems to be more understanding and sensitive to her needs. The opposite is true of Connie's unemployed brother, Brian, who is also Lee and Angel's drinking buddy. Sensitive and understanding he is not, so they definitely can't reveal their secret to him. Lee and Angel quickly realize how much they have to learn to get by in their new environment. It's not just how to walk in heels and tighten up with Spanx. For the first time, they're really listening to the women in their lives and opening themselves up to a whole new realm of experiences. In the process, they’re learning that to be a better man may mean having to be a better woman.


Cast Details:

* Ben Koldyke as Lee Standish
* Amaury Nolasco as Angel Ortiz
* Bethe Locke as Connie Standish
* John Caparulo as Brian
* Rebecca Mader as Grace
* Rochelle Aytes as Vanessa
* Kate Reinders as Kelly
* Kirstin Eggers as Kristin
* Hannah Sullivan as Kat Standish

Ben Koldyke (Lee Standish) is from Chicago but before becoming an actor and writer, Koldyke had a chance meeting with Rob McElhenney (It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia) and was able to show him his short films. McElhenney liked what he saw and gave Koldyke his chance at stardom. His TV credits now include recurring roles on How I Met Your Mother as Don Frank, Big Love as Dale Tomasson, and he guest starred in 24 as an LAPD police officer.

Amaury Nolasco (Angel Ortiz) made the move to New York, where he studied at the American British Dramatic Arts School. He went on to guest star on several popular television shows, including CSI, ER and George Lopez, before landing his first major supporting role on the big screen hit 2 Fast 2 Furious as Orange Julius. In 2005 Nolasco solidified his Hollywood acting career with his series regular role as Fernando Sucre on the critically acclaimed show, Prison Break. Other film credits include co-starring in Michael Bay's Transformers and in David Ayer's Street Kings, opposite Keanu Reeves, Forrest Whitaker and Hugh Laurie. In addition he has appeared opposite Mark Wahlberg in Max Payne and in Armored alongside Lawrence Fishburne, Matt Dillon and Jean Reno. His most recent film, The Rum Diary, where he stars opposite starring Johnny Depp, was released in October 2011.

Beth Lacke (Connish Standish) was born in Milwaukee and in 2002 she received the Joseph Jefferson Award Citation for Actress in a Supporting Role in the play The Life and Times of Tulsa Lovechild at the Collaboraction Theatre in Chicago, Illinois. That same year she was flown out to test for a pilot, and decided to try for a career in television. She found work on several pilots and, while raising her son, Charlie, commuted between Chicago and Los Angeles. Lacke's television credits include the 2006 Fox sitcom Happy Hour.

John Caparulo (Brian) quickly became a crowd favorite when he began his stand-up career in the comedy clubs of Cleveland and Pittsburgh in 1997. He has made multiple appearances on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Comedy Central Presents and, in 2007, performed alongside Bill Engvall as part of Blue Collar Comedy: The Next Generation. The following year Caparulo starred in Vince Vaughn's Wild West Comedy Show, with Jon Favreau and Justin Long. He saw more success when his one-hour special, Meet Cap, premiered to great numbers on Comedy Central. When he's not touring nationwide, Caparulo can be seen alongside his pal, Chelsea Handler, as a regular on her hit show Chelsea Lately. Through his success on the show, Caparulo joined The Comedians of Chelsea Lately national tour in 2009 and 2010. In addition to his accomplishments as a comedian, Caparulo is making his mark in animation, where he voices the role of Headphone Joe in Fish Hooks. He also hosts his own radio show on Sirius/XM Blue Collar Radio, The Mad Cap Hour.

Rebecca Mader (Grace) is a talented actress of striking, unique beauty, known for her starring role on ABC's juggernaut drama Lost, as Charlotte Lewis, a brainy but tough English anthropologist. Recent television credits include starring opposite Victor Garber in the Fox series Justice, which focused on the world of high-end celebrity, their wealthy clients and their high-profile cases. She also appeared on ABC's sci-fi family series No Ordinary Family, playing a villain capable of shape-shifting. Her impressive list of television guest starring roles includes such shows as Friends with Benefits, Covert Affairs, Law & Order: LA, Third Watch, Private Practice and Conviction. Mader appeared alongside George Clooney, Kevin Spacey, Jeff Bridges and Ewan McGregor in the independent comedy, Men Who Stare at Goats. She also appeared opposite Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway in the 20th Century Fox hit, The Devil Wears Prada, and appeared in Will Smith's comedy, Hitch. She starred opposite Uma Thurman in the independent feature Ceremony, and with Antonio Banderas in The Big Bang.

Rochelle Aytes (Vanessa) is known for her break-out role in Tyler Perry's hit motion picture Madea's Family Reunion and has also appeared in numerous commercials. Past television credits include co-starring roles on Fox's drama Drive with Nathan Fillion and Emma Stone, and ABC's The Forgotten opposite Christian Slater. She has been a recurring character on several series, including ABC's Desperate Housewives, Detroit 1-8-7, Dirt and House of Payne, and has guest-starred on many others, including White Collar, NCIS, ER and Las Vegas. Not limiting her talents to the small screen, Aytes has starred in several feature films, among them White Chicks and Trick 'R Treat.

Kate Reinders (Kelly) was a series regular on the sitcom Sherri and has made guest appearances on ABC's Modern Family and Ugly Betty. In features, she has appeared in such films as Certainty and Kinsey. On Broadway Reinders has appeared in Sam Mendes' revival of Gypsy and in the role of Glinda in Wicked, for which she was nominated for a 2005 Joseph Jefferson Award for Actress in a Principal Role in a Musical.

Kirstin Eggers (Kristin) is a native of Tucson, Arizona and a graduate of the University of Southern California, where she received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theater. After returning to Los Angeles, Eggers' comedy troupe, Summer of Tears, was selected to perform at HBO's 2007 U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, where they received the award for Best Sketch Comedy. Continuing her success in comedy, Eggers went on to perform her one-woman show, Fakesweet, at various comedy festivals across the country, much of which was created at the Groundlings. In addition, she is the co-creator of the smash hit live show and web series, I Made Out With Him Anyway and is now developing the television and film versions.

Hannah Sullivan (Kat) was five years old when she was given her first professional job – she sang a solo at a wedding. Two years later she began studying with South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa, California, and performed in several productions during her seven years of theatre, including A Christmas Carol and Time Again in Oz. Now a seventeen-year-old, she regularly performs at both the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater and Home Depot Center, where she has sung the national anthem for thousands of Los Angeles Galaxy fans. Sullivan combined her love for baking and helping others to create a bakery business in which the majority of the proceeds are donated to a variety of charities and organizations. At the age of 13, she raised the necessary funds to travel to Peru, where she assisted children in need. Her passion for helping children has also led her to sponsor a little girl in the Philippines.


Pilot Plot:

#1 "Pilot" (Airs January 3, 2012)
The almost-broke and unemployed Lee finds out that Coreco Pharmaceuticals is looking to hire sales reps -- female sales reps. He takes a chance and goes into the interview dressed in heels, a skirt and makeup. The transformed Lee gets hired -- as a woman. Lee wants to stay true to his agreement with Angel that, if one of them is working, then the other will be too, so he tells Angel what he has to do if he wants a job at Coreco. Angel, who is miserable working at a fast-food dump, is desperate to make a change; he decides to swallow his pride and go for it. Unfortunately he tanks his interview, but when he fixes the boss's car, he too is hired - also as a woman.

Guest starring in "Pilot" are Josh McDermitt as manager, Julia Cho as receptionist, Mylinda Royer as secretary, Garz Chan as make-up artist and Kristen Henry King as woman.
The episode was written by Ted Cohen & Andrew Reich and directed by Beth McCarthy-Miller.


Analysis:

This pilot it certainly very silly, but at the same time it does have laughs. It's a traditional sitcom with a studio audience and it works best for this sitcom. The pilot starts off with the main character, Lee, losing his job. Lee has a wife and a teenage daughter, so you have a family sitcom element as well. We don't see them much together in the pilot, but I could see this dynamic playing well in future episodes. That's not the core of this show, though. The core is with Lee and his best friend Angel. He is also out of work and recently found a job at a taco place. They both worked for Pontiac, in different departments (Lee in sales and Angel as a mechanic). Lee and Angel also hang out with, Lee's wife's brother Brian. He is your typical sitcom side-kick that brings in laughs with one-liners.

The fun starts when Lee is coming out of a doctor's appointment and overhears another patient talking about how they are hiring. The only problem is that that she says they are only looking for women. Later when Lee is back at home he gets the idea of going for an interview for that job and he dresses up as a woman. Desperate times calls for desperate measures indeed! There are lots of laughs after that. Lee kinds of looks like Jack Tripper from Three's Company when he dressed up a woman to hide from the FBI. I don't think there is anything game changing here, but it will make you laugh. Just don't try to compare this to something like Modern Family or Parks & Recreation, and you'll be fine. This show knows what it is and it's about silly fun and we need sitcoms like this. Anyway, back to the story. Lee goes for his interview and impresses the very hot boss Vanessa. He gets the job and then meets his co-workers - three very hot ladies (Grace, Kelly & Kristin). They are all unique and different. Kristin is a single mom, in which Lee says he is. Kelly is the office party girl and Grace is icy regional sales leader, but it very suspicious of Lee. We will probably see these three girls mesh with Lee more than his wife & daughter on this sitcom. That's fine, because this show is workplace sitcom, even if it is not your ordinary workplace sitcom.

Lee made a deal with his best friend Angel that he would get him a job wherever he ended up. So he keeps his promise and walks into the taco place where Angel is working, as the female version of Lee. Angel doesn't recognize him of course and without giving any of the jokes away Angel decides to dress up a woman as well and try out for the interview. When Angel gets his interview he is immediately attracted to Vanessa and blows his interview. He eventually does get the job, but how he gets his job is pretty hilarious. Let's just say his mechanic skills came in handy! Now both Lee and Angel are working together dressed up as females in an all female personnel company. The laughs are certainly there when they are together! If you're looking for witty jokes, you won't get that here. It is all playful stuff. Critics won't like this show, that's a given. But the show is not out to play to them, it's out to the mainstream audience and I can tell you that this show will get more viewers than a smart comedy like Community. More people will relate and be attracted to this show because it is simple and traditional.


Conclusion:

This show is getting a bad rep in the press. That's not surprising to me. Why? Because this is not your type of sitcom that plays well with critics. According to Jim never was a critical darling and yet it lasted 8 seasons and during its heyday was one of the top sitcoms on TV in the ratings. This show is like that. It knows itself and it goes after the mainstream audience. Another area where this show is getting slammed is for being controversial as two men dressing up as woman in a female only workplace. Um hello, has anyone heard of Bosom Buddies with Tom Hanks? (I think Tom Hanks is doing fine these days, isn't he?) There was no complaints when that show aired. For all that are complaining, you need to watch this pilot. There is nothing at all controversial about it. It's just going out for simple and silly laughs. It's a sitcom. This is not a real-life portrayal of transgenders. Lee and Angel are not looking to turn into females, they are just dressing up as woman to get a job. It's silly, not controversial.

Anyway, the pilot is funny. I can't deny that. It's not going to win any Emmy Awards and nor should it. We need a sitcom or two like this to remind us of the sitcoms of the '80s and '90s because this is indeed a throwback style comedy. It's not the best sitcom of this 2011-12 season but it is not the worst either. This pilot has more laughs than some other pilots like Man Up, Free Agents, Whitney, I Hate My Teenage Daughter and How To Be A Gentleman. In fact, I know Tim Allen's Last Man Standing has now turned out to be a good family sitcom, but that started off a little slow in the first episode or two. It will be following Tim Allen's sitcom, so it should get sampled in the ratings. I think most who tune in and will actually laugh. You Lost fans will want to tune in for Rebecca Mader (Charlotte!), she is pretty funny as the mean co-worker and I could see her being more of a player in future episodes. Work It is working the laughs! Tune in and sample it. That's all I ask. It's not everyone's cup of tea, but I assure it isn't mocking anyone or group.


Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):

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

Discuss the show after you watch it on Tuesday, January 3 on our message board.

Related Links:

  • ABC.com Official Site
  • TV.com
  • epguides.com
  • Internet Movie Database
  • Wikipedia
  • Work It Photo Gallery

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