Wednesday, September 28, 2011

CBS Fall Pilot Review: How to Be a Gentleman - Premieres September 29; TeenNick Adds Hey Dude,The Amanda Show, More To The '90s Are All That Block

How to Be a Gentleman

How to Be a Gentleman - Thursdays 8:30PM ET/PT on CBS
Premieres Thursday, September 29, 2011 at 8:30PM ET/PT


Columnist Andrew Carlson (David Hornsby) thinks that he is the "perfect gentleman" in How to Be a Gentleman, but when the publication that he is working for undergoes some significant demographic changes, he either has to change his views or face unemployment. His problem? While he knows how to be a perfect gentleman, he doesn't know how to be the perfect man. He's always been the guy to hold doors open for women and to keep his areas clean and tidy, but he has also been the kid who was constantly bullied when he was younger.

The changes at his magazine, which require Andrew to change his column, are only the beginning of the changes for Andrew's life. While seeking out ways to reinvent his column, Andrew runs into former high school bully Bert Lansing (Kevin Dillon), who now runs a gym. The meeting with Bert gives Andrew a chance to begin reassessing everything that he may be able to write for his column, and further gives him an opportunity to reassess his life, and what it truly means to be a gentleman.

Cast Details:

David Hornsby as Andrew Carlson
Kevin Dillon as Bert Lansing
Dave Foley as Jerry
Mary Lynn Rajskub as Janet
Rhys Darby as Mike

David Hornsby (Andrew) is the star of the series, the columnist who writes about "how to be a perfect gentleman." He has appeared in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, The Joe Schmo Show, and Six Feet Under. In addition to his role in the series, he is also the creator of the series.

Kevin Dillon (Bert) plays the guy who is going to teach Andrew how to be a man in the series. If the last name sounds familiar, it should: he is the younger brother of actor Matt Dillon. But Kevin Dillon has also had success of his own, playing the role of Drama in the recently ended HBO series Entourage, as well as roles in movies such as Platoon.

Dave Foley (Jerry) plays Andrew's boss at the magazine, a boss who is resistant to the changes, but is too close to retirement to fight them. Canadian-born Foley played the starring role of Dave Nelson in the 90s NBC series NewsRadio, and has had countless guest-starring roles in series such as The New Adventures of Old Christine, Will & Grace, Brothers & Sisters, and many more.

Mary Jane Rajskub (Janet) plays the role of Andrew's sister in the series. Rajskub is well-known for her starring role as Chloe O'Brien on the series 24. She has also had roles in The Larry Sanders Show, NewsRadio, and Veronica's Closet. Additionally, she was one of the original cast members of Mr. Show.

Rhys Darby (Mike) plays Janet's husband and Andrew's quirky brother-in-law. The New Zealand born actor is best known to viewers in the United States as Murray from the HBO series Flight of the Conchords.


Pilot Plot:

In the pilot episode, we are introduced to Andrew Carlson, the author of a magazine column about how to be a perfect gentleman. We see how he is the perfect Mr. Manners. But this all comes crashing down during a meeting with his boss Jerry, who informs Andrew that changes are about to come to the magazine. A new owner of the magazine doesn't see profits in the magazine as it is, and wants to retool the magazine to a more hip and edgier magazine for modern men.

During an incredibly depressing birthday dinner with his sister and brother-in-law, where Andrew recounts all of his failures in life and his disdain over the new changes, Andrew receives a gift of a training session at a gym. Andrew doesn't really like this gift, but a perfect gentleman always uses a gift, whether he likes it or not. When he goes to the gym, he runs in to Bert. Bert used to bully Andrew in high school, but this encounter begins a new relationship between the two when Andrew begins to use Bert's wisdom to help him adapt to the changes in the magazine, as well as his life in general.

Analysis:

Can anybody say Felix Unger and Oscar Madison forty years later? I think that is a fair assessment of what this series is, and this series takes on a lot of the classic series The Odd Couple. Now sometimes, imitation is bad, but in this series, it seems to be rather well executed, and unlike many pilots out there, this puts a fresh perspective on an old idea.

There weren't really that many moments in the pilot that I disliked, and unlike many pilots that I have seen, the action seemed to move pretty fast in the pilot. It seems that many pilots are very slow to develop the main plot of the series, and get annoying by the end of the first episode, often setting a bad tone for the entire series. This one didn't.

As for the comedy of the series, it seemed a bit subdued in the pilot, but that isn't to say that the series is unfunny. A series like this one, on how to be manly, is a perfect setup for some good comedy. The pilot didn't fully take advantage of those capabilities, but I'm hoping that as the series goes on, it will take advantage of them a bit more. Luckily, though, the pilot seemed to be well-written, and good writing can often make up for other areas that may be lacking.

My only criticism of the series is the casting of Kevin Dillon in the role of Bert. That isn't to say that I dislike Kevin Dillon. In fact, I like his acting, and enjoyed him in Entourage. But to me, he seems (and I'll add, is) too old to be playing one of Andrew's classmates from high school. He is about ten years older than Hornsby, and at least in my opinion, the difference really was evident. However, with the series set to air already, this is, lamentably, something that is going to have to remain as is, and despite that age difference, he does well in the role--he just isn't the right person.


Conclusion:

I actually liked the pilot of the series, and I'm hopeful that this could be a great series to add to my weekly viewing schedule. Even though it really is just a modern-day take on The Odd Couple (and I think you'll see that in the first few seconds of the series), it brings that type of show to the modern era. I feel like the odds are against this series from the beginning, as CBS still hasn't established a level of success for the 8:30 Thursday slot, even though they were able to transfer viewers of The Big Bang Theory to the Thursday night slot. But maybe this series will work in the slot after The Big Bang Theory, as viewers will be able to relate the character of Andrew to some on The Big Bang Theory. I hope that this series at least goes for a full season, and perhaps longer. It has potential that I rarely see in new sitcoms these days.

Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):

Watchability: 4/5
Funniness: 3/5
Overall: 3.5/5

-- Reviewed by skees53 on 09/28/11

Discuss the show after you watch it on Thursday, September 29 on our message board.

Related Links:

  • CBS.com Official Site
  • TV.com
  • epguides.com
  • Internet Movie Database
  • Wikipedia
  • How to Be a Gentleman Photo Gallery

    Preview:





    Effective this week, Doug and Clarissa Explains It All returned to The '90s Are All That block on TeenNick, but that's not all! More shows are coming. For now, Rocko's Modern Life and Hey Arnold! are off the line-up after three weeks, but they could return at some point. All That and Kenan & Kel are still scheduled to stay on the air to kick off the weeknight late night block in the 12-1am hour (encores 2-3am). Onto the new series, replacing Clarissa Explains It starting next week (Monday, Oct. 3), will be Hey Dude! The early '90s comedic western will air at 1am with an encore at 3am. As of now, it is scheduled for two weeks. Then starting October 17, the half-hour will be the Amanda Bynes series The Amanda Show. Then starting Oct. 31, just in time for Halloween it is Are You Afraid of the Dark? at 1am and 3am! It looks like a rotating wheel of classic Nick series is airing in this timeslot. Doug is remaining put in the 1:30am half-hour.
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