The time has come once again (again). The summer sun set long ago. The days have grown colder and the nights have grown longer and we’ve filled those nights with
fretting about the election new fall TV. As happens every autumn, the five major networks unleashed a flurry of new programs meant to entertain us into these dark, frigid winter months (and beyond). So many choices. So much risk! How will you know what to watch? That’s where I come in. I watch every new fall pilot episode so that you don’t have to (even if it takes me months to do so). I take one for the team, so you can watch the… screen(m). It’s time for more of…
THE PILOT PROJECT (2016 Edition Pt. 2)
Man With a Plan (Mondays on CBS)
Oh man. This is it. The one we’ve all been waiting for!
I don’t know that I necessarily dreaded watching any of this year’s pilots (even Kevin Can Wait was fun to mock), but if there was one that I cared about the least, it was probably Man with a Plan. Now, I wasn’t really basing this feeling on anything. I hadn’t seen a trailer or heard anything in particular about the show. I think that maybe my preconceived notions stemmed solely from the title. Nothing about a show called Man with a Plan sounds particularly appealing, because that’s about as broad and clichéd a title as you could possibly come up with. Unfortunately, the show lives up to its name.
I’m going to sound like a broken record here, but Man with a Plan is fine. It’s fine! It’s not particularly funny or original, but I’m sure there are people out there who would enjoy it. Matt LeBlanc stars as Adam Burns, a (wait for it) man with a plan! He’s got a wife, Andi (Liza Snyder), and three kids: Kate (Grace Kaufman), Emme (Hala Finley), and Teddy (Matthew McCann). The Burns’ are a middle-class family living in the suburban Pittsburgh, and the series looks to follow Adam’s struggle to become a stay-at-home dad while his wife goes back to work. It’s a winning formula, because that’s just it – a formula. Down-to-earth wife, goofy husband, and oddball children. I just described Man with a Plan, as well as The Middle, Fresh off the Boat, Black-ish, Modern Family, and Speechless (and those are just the network family sitcoms that are airing this fall). I would have listed The Goldbergs as well, only the husband/wife roles have been reversed (sorry, I can’t speak to The Real O’Neals because I haven’t started it).
Listen, you’ve probably noticed by now that it’s very hard for me to hate a show. Unless the show is actively offensive or boring, I’ll probably find some redeemable qualities in it (or at least I’ll recognize that it’s competently made). Should I be so easy on unremarkable entertainment? Maybe not. That’s why I’m not a very good critic. Having seen first-hand the work that goes into creating a show, I don’t feel right being overly dismissive. Man with a Plan wasn’t very funny, but I also wasn’t overly offended by it. So…
Man with a Plan is a serviceable slice of American family sitcom, and if you think it’s something you’d like, then go ahead and watch it, but you’d be better served by watching Fresh off the Boat, Black-ish, The Goldbergs, Modern Family, Speechless, The Middle, or The Real O’Neals (probably). There might have been a time in which Man with a Plan would have felt fresh and original, but in this age of “Peak TV”, who has the time?
I mean… if they didn’t bother to put in any effort, then why should I?