Many years back the sitcoms were king, the reality TV came and they began to die out. Now some of the highest rating shows, and most popular, are sitcoms again. This means that sitcoms are popular again but also a risk.
When you have to compete with How I Met Your Mother and The Big Bang Theory, it makes the market hard to break into.
I reviewed 2 Broke Girls, I watched and somewhat enjoyed Whitney, and I’m still on the line for The New Girl, this leaves How to be a Gentlemen as the last major sitcom to air.
I was unsure about how I felt about this show going in. The big draw was that this was Kevin Dillon’s post Entourage show. I liked Kevin Dillon as Drama, everybody did but Drama was not a deep character. Could we really deal with Drama in a starring role instead of a supporting actor?
The other co-lead, David Hornsby, is a realitive unknown with little to no commercial draw. He has appeared in The Joe Schmo Show, Six Feet Under, and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
Needless to say I had low expectations coming into this but I was happy to be surprised.
The two main characters seem a little cliché but have within them a surprising amount of depth and originality. Andrew Carlson (Hornsby) is a gentleman. He lives by the etiquette rule book, is always polite, and keeps himself in high regard and even writes a column about such in a high class magazine. Sadly this approach to life leaves him with no friends, a lonely existence and his job threatened. He reminds me of a younger Frasier Crane but without the Cheers appeal. Andrew’s the one with the extended cast, the ones who he ends up Tim Tayloring the episode’s lessons to (Take the information gained from the ‘sage’ and regurgitate it to others).
Bert Lansing (Dillon) is a struggling gym owner who used to be Andrews bully in school. He is a man’s man jock who lives under a veil of failure and no respect from his father. The surprising, and original, aspect of this character comes from some of his believes. He lives by a philosophy of ‘Yang and Yang.’ In his thoughts mind and body must work together. There is only a black circle because nothing is more important than anything else, everything is equal. This is a philosophy normally reserved for martial art masters or gurus like Mr Miyagi or Deepak Chopra. This is not the norm for ‘muscle heads’ or ‘Gym Junkies.’ I was surprised at Dillon’s portrayal and frankly quite impressed. This role is the perfect example of how to take an actor known for a certain type of character and write something intelligent and exceptional that suits the performer’s known style. This will be a role that, if written correctly, will slowly push the boundaries of what we expect from Dillon and of what he is capable of as an actor.
This Odd-Couple premise is a simple one, Andrew’s high class magazine, which houses his How to be a Gentlemen column, has been bought. The new management has decided to refocus the magazines attention and draw in a younger readership. This leaves his column, and his job, under the knife. In an effort to adapt he needs to change his article. Insert an unknown force that brings these two together, be it fate, destiny or a script writer, and they begin to help each other.
The show is narrated like (and I can’t believe I’m saying this) Sex in the City – just substitute Andrews for Carrie (I blaming my wife for any and all Sex in the City knowledge I have). What we hear is Andrews talking throughout the episode only to find out that this is words from his latest article. The supporting cast has more comedic draw then the main cast. Andrew’s family is played by Nancy Lenehan (My name is Earl), Mary Lynn Rajskub (24), Rhys Darby (Flight of the Concords) and the side cast is rounded out by Andrews boss played by Dave Foley (Kinds in the Hall).
I found myself impressed with the pilot and eagerly wanting more. I adored the comedic take on the Oriental monk in American pop Culture. We’ve seen the wise neighbour or guide in TV before, Wilson Wilson comes to mind from Home Improvement, but never one in such a unlikely role.
Iwamura, Jane Naomi. “Oriental monk in American Popular Culture.” Religion and Popular Culture in America. Ed. Bruce David Forbes and Jeffrey H. Mahan. London: UOC, 2005. 25-44. Print.