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Last Man Standing aired from October 2011 until ? on ABC.
Last Man Standing is an ABC sitcom starring Tim Allen (Home Improvement) and Nancy Travis (Becker). Last Man Standing tells the story of Mike Baxter (Tim Allen), a man unsure of his place in the woman's world we live in today. Mike is a marketing director for the an outdoor sporting goods store, loves adventure and drives a pick-up truck - he is your typical guys' guy. Although Mike is in charge at work, he is the odd man out in a household dominated by women: his wife Vanessa (Nancy Travis), and their daughters Kristin, Mandy and Eve. After years being a stay-at-home mom, Vanessa recently returned to the workplace and was swiftly promoted. With his wife's increased work load, Mike is pushed to become a more hands-on parent.
Last Man Standing stars Tim Allen as Mike, Nancy Travis as Vanessa, Molly Ephraim as Mandy, Alexandra Krosney as Kristin, Kaitlyn Dever as Eve, Christoph Sanders as Kyle, and Hector Elizondo (Chicago Hope) as Ed.
Last Man Standing was created by Jack Burditt (30 Rock), who serves as executive producer with Tim Allen, Becky Clements, Marty Adelstein, Shawn Levy, Richard Baker and Rick Messina. John Pasquin (Home Improvement, The Santa Clause) directs the show. Last Man Standing airs on ABC and is produced by Twentieth Century Fox Television.
A Review from Variety
Posted: Fri., Oct. 7, 2011, 3:30pm PT
Last Man Standing
(Tues. Oct. 11, 8 p.m.)
By Brian Lowry
Credits: Filmed in Los Angeles by 21 Laps and Double Wide Prods. in association with Twentieth Century Fox Television. Executive producers, Jack Burditt, Tim Allen, Marty Adelstein, Shawn Levy, Becky Clements, Richard Baker, Rick Messina; co-executive producers, Marsh McCall, Kevin Hench, Andy Gordon, Liz Astrof; producers, John Pasquin, John Amodeo; director, Pasquin; writer, Burditt.
Mike - Tim Allen
Vanessa - Nancy Travis
Eve - Kaitlyn Dever
Mandy - Molly Ephraim
Kristin - Alexandra Krosney
Kyle - Christoph Sanders
Ed - Hector Elizondo
Disney's Marvel Comics once published a title called "What if … ?" which tampered with comicbook history to explore the rewritten consequences. Think of "Last Man Standing," Tim Allen's not-so-triumphant return to ABC, as "What if the Dad on 'Home Improvement' had girls instead of boys?" Although it's one of several comedies dabbling in gender (and a touch of conservative) politics, probing such matters gives this "Man" too much credit. Mostly, it's an excuse to watch Allen occupy an Archie Bunker-like role 20 years after he began raking in cash for ABC. Good luck catching lightning in a bottle twice.
Mike is normally away on business for long stretches, but a shift at the catalogue where he works -- plus a promotion for his wife Vanessa (Nancy Travis) at her job -- will keep him closer to home. That means he has to figure out how to deal with his daughters, including the single mom Kristin (Alexandra Krosney), who lives with them.
Kristin's toddler is in daycare, where Mike is told they're "building a mosque out of pillows." His grimace and grumbling about "Obamacare" tells you he's conservative ("old school," as his daughter puts it), but the more pertinent issue regards a guy's guy mystified by all the estrogen surrounding him. Of course, Vanessa is by contrast omniscient -- so much so that when one of the girls bursts into tears, she immediately snaps at Mike, "What the hell did you do?"
What writer Jack Burditt ("30 Rock") and director/"Home Improvement" alum John Pasquin have done is concoct a series meant to reach women by watching a man's man chafe against society's perceived feminization. If there's any potential here, most of it comes from Allen's relationship with his youngest daughter (Kaitlyn Dever, fresh off FX's "Justified"), an awkward tomboy; and his boss Ed (a slumming Hector Elizondo).
But that's grasping at straws. Allen's Mike saunters through the wispy pilot (something about an errant blind date he arranges involving his daughters) spouting laugh lines like, "It smells like balls in here," which is truer than intended. A second episode -- creating a one-hour premiere -- is equally arid, with Mike pushing middle-kid Mandy (Molly Ephraim) to find a job, and chafing about the sissified notion of baby-proofing the house.
Allen is one of those rare standup comics with the chops to actually thrive in a sitcom format, but here he's simply going through the motions -- in a series determined to replicate "Home Improvement's" vibe and hope nobody notices the difference.
Stranger stunts have worked, and the show has a fair shot of at least opening -- especially given the promising numbers for some new comedies. That said, unlike when "Home" premiered, neither men nor women will need to stand in order to change channels.
Camera, Donald A. Morgan; production designer, Bernie Vyzga; editor, Pamela J. Marshall; music, Monte Montgomery, Carl Thiel; casting, Marc Hirschfeld, Blyth Nailling. 30 MIN.
An Article about Last man Standing
Young actress Kaitlyn Dever squares off with comedy king Tim Allen
By David Martindale
Special to DFW.com
Posted 5:20pm on Friday, Oct. 07, 2011
Kaitlyn Dever already has her eyes on the prize.
"I want to win an Oscar," says the 14-year-old actress. "That is my main goal in life."
Don't bet against this determined North Texas native, who lived in The Colony before moving to Los Angeles four years ago.
She plays Tim Allen's daughter on Last Man Standing, an ABC sitcom that premieres at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
This year, she delivered a gifted-beyond-her-years dramatic performance in FX's Justified.
"My mom asked me, 'What if you win an Oscar in three years? Are you going to stop acting once you've accomplished your goal?' I said, 'No, I'm just going to keep winning more!'"
There has never been a doubt in Dever's mind that this was the career for her.
"I'm going to keep doing it for the rest of my life," she says, "because I love it so much."
We chatted with Dever last week from the set of Last Man Standing.
When did you discover your love of acting?
"I wanted to be an actress since I was 5. Instead, my parents put me in ballet, gymnastics and soccer. I enjoyed those things, but deep down I wanted to be an actress. So I told them I wanted to go out to California to be a star. The next morning, I got a phone book and I was going to find an agent to represent me. That's when they really knew how determined I was. When I was 8, about to turn 9, they enrolled me in a school called Young Actors Studio in Irving. I started there. I got an agent when I was 10."
When you're working alongside famous actors, do you ever get star-struck?
"That definitely happens. I was in a movie called Bad Teacher and I was going to the table read for it and I am such a big fan of Cameron Diaz that I started freaking out when I first saw her. She was cool, though, and I got over it. But I still get really star-struck at times, and I don't think that will ever change."
What do you think of your TV dad, Tim Allen?
"He is so, so, so funny. He is always making me laugh on set. We'll be in the middle of a rehearsal and he will start doing stand-up comedy, and he's hilarious. He does all these funny voices and funny faces. He's just a really cool guy to work with."
Last Man Standing and Justified are such different shows. Which do you feel more comfortable doing: comedy or drama?
"I feel comfortable doing all of it. Justified was the complete opposite of this show, but I can do variations of comedy and drama. I can be a preppy schoolgirl. I can be a really tough girl with a Southern accent. I can be tomboy who loves sports, like Eve on Last Man Standing. It doesn't matter. I love it all."
What's the most unusual acting job you've had to do?
"I did a McDonald's commercial and I had to eat chicken nuggets all day long. This was like my fourth commercial. They gave me a spit bucket. But I said, 'I'm going for it all.' I ate a ton of chicken nuggets that day. They gave me the option of spitting it out, but I was like, 'Aw, who cares? I don't need a spit bucket.' So all I had was chicken nuggets all day, and I was having the time of my life!"
A Review from The New York Times
Downsized and Downtrodden, Men Are the New Women on TV
By ALESSANDRA STANLEY
Published: October 10, 2011
“I am the man!” Will (Mather Zickel) hollers lustily into his headset after scoring a kill in a combat video game. His wife, yelling from another room, orders him to pipe down.
“I’m the man,” he repeats in a meek whisper.
“Man Up!,” which begins next Tuesday on ABC, is one of several new sitcoms that make fun of men, so much so that the word “man” itself is treated as a joke. ABC’s other emasculation comedy starts this Tuesday and is called “Last Man Standing.” It stars Tim Allen, the onetime star of “Home Improvement.” Mr. Allen plays Mike, the marketing director of an outdoorsman’s catalog who has to stay home to tend to his three daughters when his business retracts to an online shopping site.
“Man Up!” is about Judd Apatow-ish men who are treated as children. “Last Man Standing” is a little less humble and more of a backlash against all the man bashing. Mike is an old-fashioned hunting-and-fishing man’s man, disgusted by his daughter’s mani-pedi-loving boyfriend and outraged by his grandson’s politically correct day care center (Mike is chided by a teacher for calling the boy “champ,” because the word “implies victory over another person.”)
Like so many other men on television these days, the put-upon heroes of “Man Up!” and “Last Man Standing” are victims of a changed economy and a new social order in which men are the new women.
Men have always been the butt of sitcom jokes, but in the days when they really did dominate the weaker sex, they were mocked more for their manliness than their metrosexuality. Husbands like Ralph Kramden and Ricky Ricardo were bossy despots who never quite understood that their wives were really running the show sub rosa. Even henpecked husbands on shows like “According to Jim” and “Everybody Loves Raymond” erred by being blunderingly male: Jim paid his sister-in-law to pick out jewelry he could give his wife; Raymond erased the wedding tape by recording a football game over it.
Nowadays men get on their wives’ and girlfriends’ nerves by not being manly enough. On “Man Up!” Will’s wife, Theresa (Teri Polo), taunts him for drinking his coffee with a hazelnut nondairy creamer.
“Your grandfather fought in World War II, your father fought in Vietnam, but you play video games and use a pomegranate body wash,” Theresa says acidly.
“Are you saying I’m not a man?” Will asks.
“You are man-ish,” she replies.
CBS has its own variation on the theme, “How to Be a Gentleman,” which began in September and is already slated for cancellation. It’s a modern “Odd Couple,” adjusted for recession and the role reversal of men and women. Andrew (David Hornsby) needs to man up when the new owner of the men’s magazine he writes for decides to appeal to a younger, nonreading demographic. Andrew enlists the help of a Neanderthal personal trainer, Bert (Kevin Dillon, “Entourage”), to teach him how to be less of a gentleman.
It isn’t just that Andrew is too courtly; his real problem is that he is too womanly. Bert takes him to a bar to coach him how to have one-night stands, and Andrew ruins everything by trying to call the gorgeous cellist he picked up to ask for a second date. As Bert knew all along, the cellist just wanted a one-time hookup.
It used to be that the woman sat by the phone waiting for a man to call. Now it’s the man who tortures himself wondering if she’s just not that into him.
On “Home Improvement” Mr. Allen played the star of a DIY television show who was clumsy around his own house. In his new role as Mike, a downsized dad, Mr. Allen has a video blog on which he rants against the feminization of the species.
The focus on men’s failings partly reflects that female viewers outnumber men; network executives, it seems, know what women want. But the devolution of man has been a topic of talk shows, pop psychology and books for years. The New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd published the book “Are Men Necessary?” in 2005, before the economy collapsed. Since then, books, articles and blogs about the changed status of men have abounded. This year alone, Dan Abrams argued that women were better at almost everything in his book “Man Down.” And Kay S. Hymowitz agreed in “Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men Into Boys.”
The recession, it turns out, has only made things worse for men, which is why it is sometimes referred to as a mancession. As of last month, the Labor Department reported that unemployment rates were slightly higher for men than for women. Maybe more significantly, studies show that the wage gap between the sexes is narrowing, with women gaining on men.
Perhaps accordingly, there is a faint whiff of hostility mixed in with some of the laughter. ABC has a midseason show called “Work It,” which is a recession redo of the 1980s Tom Hanks cross-dressing sitcom, “Bosom Buddies.” Two out-of-work car salesmen discover that jobs in pharmaceutical sales are reserved for pretty women who can seduce doctors. They get around discrimination by dressing in drag. (They are hired because an executive complains that all the other female applicants think a clinical trial has something to do with Lindsay Lohan.)
On the NBC comedy “Up All Night,” the husband stays home with the baby, so his wife can resume her career. On NBC’s “Whitney,” the boyfriend doesn’t dare propose to his girlfriend because she is allergic to marriage. The heroine of “New Girl,” on Fox, is supposedly a loser in matters of love, but she ends up having to coach and console a male roommate who cannot get over being dumped. There are almost no men at all on the CBS buddy comedy “2 Broke Girls.”
On his show, Mr. Allen is at war with male extinction, and that’s why he may well be the last man standing.
LAST MAN STANDING
ABC, Tuesday nights at 8, Eastern and Pacific times; 7, Central time.
Produced by 20th Century Fox Television. Created by Jack Burditt; directed by John Pasquin; Mr. Burditt, Tim Allen, Marty Adelstein, Becky Clements, Shawn Levy, Richard Baker and Rick Messina, executive producers.
WITH: Tim Allen (Mike), Nancy Travis (Vanessa), Kaitlyn Dever (Eve), Molly Ephraim (Mandy), Alexandra Krosney (Kristin), Christoph Sanders (Kyle) and Hector Elizondo (Ed).
ABC, beginning next Tuesday night at 8:30, Eastern and Pacific times; 7:30, Central time.
Produced by ABC Studios. Written by Christopher Moynihan; Mr. Moynihan, Victor Fresco, Ron West and Kelly Kulchak, executive producers.
WITH: Mather Zickel (Will Keen), Dan Fogler (Kenny Hayden), Christopher Moynihan (Craig Griffith), Teri Polo (Theresa Hayden Keen), Amanda Detmer (Brenda Hayden), Henry Simmons (Grant), Jake Johnson (Nathan Keen) and Charlotte Labadie (Lucy Keen).
HOW TO BE A GENTLEMAN
CBS, Saturday nights at 8:30, Eastern and Pacific times; 7:30, Central time.
Produced by CBS Television Studios. David Hornsby, Adam Chase and Ted Schachter, executive producers.
WITH: David Hornsby (Andrew Carlson), Kevin Dillon (Bert Lansing), Dave Foley (Jerry), Mary Lynn Rajskub (Janet), Nancy Lenehan (Diane) and Rhys Darby (Mike)
An Article from USA TODAY
Tim Allen goes home again to TV comedy
By Bill Keveney, USA TODAY
His ABC comedy, Last Man Standing (premieres Tuesday, 8 p.m. ET/PT), bears more than a passing resemblance to his 1990s hit, Home Improvement.
"Someone said to me, 'It's not that far from that last show,'" Allen says. "I said, 'No, because I liked that last show.'"
As Mike Baxter, Allen again is the married father of three — girls, this time — and his job at a sporting goods store now has him playing with guns and binoculars instead of Home's hammers and nails. He goes more modern in finding an outlet for his stand-up skills, doing a video blog instead of Tool Time, his Home show-within-a-show. There's even a Wilson figure, boss and friend Ed (Hector Elizondo), although the audience sees this character's face.
If viewers want to compare Man to Home, which ended in 1999, Allen, 58, would be "delighted." He believes viewers will still enjoy the familiar, if it's done right. "Do we still like hamburgers and french fries and good milkshakes? We'll see on Tuesday night, because that's what I equate this to. This is not new food. You've had this food before."
He says Home, a huge ratings hit, ended before its time, but he wanted to go out on top, like pro athletes John Elway or Wayne Gretzky. He spent the interim years working on feature films, including the Santa Clause and Toy Story franchises, and he still does stand-up comedy.
Nancy Travis, who plays Mike's wife, Vanessa, says Allen's expertise in the sitcom format is apparent.
"I'm very impressed with how smart he is about it and just the experience from Home Improvement that he brings to the making of this. You're trying to cobble together a world, a family and a workplace," she says. "You really have to be true to what those characters' motivations are. It's not just about writing jokey situations."
Allen says he's intrigued by the idea of a man surrounded by a wife and three daughters — two teens (Kaitlyn Dever and Molly Ephraim) and a 20-year-old (Alexandra Krosney) who is a single mother.
"Mostly, it's my comedy. It's based on 'I don't get 'em.' I do all of my jokes about women: love women, admire women, frightened of women, dislike women. I just so love women and then sometimes you just have no clue," says Allen, who has two daughters in real life.
Mike is drawn more into his daughters' world when his frequent work travel ceases and his wife's workload expands after a promotion. That should make for good comedic situations, Allen says.
"I'm not a broadcaster for women's rights, but it's going to be awfully fun in this show to be finding my girls getting second-classed and I'm their dad and he's a tough guy," he says. "Being a champion for three boys in Home Improvement was one thing, but being the champion for three daughters is another."
A Review from USA TODAY
With Tim Allen, 'Last Man Standing' is on steady footing
By Robert Bianco, USA TODAY
Obviously, revisiting a 20-year-old sitcom is hardly the boldest creative move ABC and Tim Allen could have made — but when it comes to commercial success, networks seldom believe fortune favors the bold. They generally assume people want the safe, friendly and familiar, and shows don't come much more familiar than Last Man Standing.
Trust me: Even if you've never seen Home Improvement, there's nothing in Last Man Standing you've never seen.
Still, give Allen credit for knowing what he wants (Home Improvement with daughters instead of sons) and being upfront about what he's doing. And considering that Home is still the last ABC sitcom to end the season as the nation's most popular, he's probably not the only person who wants it back.
If you watch his performance tonight, you should also give Allen credit on another front, as well. Unlike Jerry Seinfeld, who left his sitcom as terrible an actor as when he went in, Allen improved each year of Home's run — and is clearly on top of his sitcom game. You may not laugh at all his lines, but you can't deny he knows how to deliver them.
This time, he's delivering them as Mike — and instead of doing a TV show for a hardware company, he's doing Web videos for a sporting goods store. He has a working wife, Vanessa (Nancy Travis), and three daughters: 13-year-old Eve (Justified's Kaitlyn Dever), 17-year-old Mandy (Molly Ephraim) and 20-year-old Kristin (Alexandra Krosney), a single mom who's living with her parents with her young son. You can see from the kids' ages that concessions have been made to Allen's own, though not perhaps enough to stop Man from feeling old. It's like Modern Family with everything modern removed.
The show opens with Mike facing a crisis: The owner of the sporting goods company (Hector Elizondo) has killed the company's catalog — and canceled Mike's globe-trotting photo shoots. Now Mike's job is to draw more viewers to the website, a job that will also allow him to spend more time at home bothering his daughters.
Surely you can see where this is headed. Mike interferes — telling Eve to be more aggressive on the soccer field, grounding Mandy until she learns to change a tire, and pulling Kristin's son out of day care. Everything goes wrong, then everything goes right and everyone's happy.
Except, perhaps, for viewers who want something fresh, or who don't want to hear Mike's video/parental rants against all the things he finds unmanly — a list that includes soccer, AAA, tanning salons, men who dance, fantasy football and Obamacare.
It's all standard stuff, but outside of the tiresome, heard-it-all-before rants, it's not without its appeal. Travis and Allen work well together (she exudes the healthy skepticism Patricia Richardson brought to Home Improvement), and as anyone who saw Justified knows, Dever is a star aborning. And there's no question that Allen is a pro.
Whether that's reason enough to follow him back to the very old homestead is up to you to decide.
A Review from The Washington Post
‘Last Man Standing’: He’s alone for a reason
By Hank Stuever,
Years ago, you used to hear about people who worked as professional laughers in Hollywood. They were paid by networks to sit in studio audiences and bust their guts guffawing, which would, in theory, cause the people around them to laugh louder.
I guess those people have all been downsized, because at several points during the lazily conceived and terribly executed Tim Allen sitcom “Last Man Standing” (premiering Tuesday night on ABC), one can distinctly hear a studio audience not laughing. It’s entirely possible that a sound editor will come along and add some more laughs to the two episodes I’ve seen; otherwise there is an unsettling silence throughout, broken only by a muted chuckle or cough.
“Last Man Standing” is Allen’s much-ballyhooed return to sitcomville, and it is thickly coated in nostalgia for his “Home Improvement” hit of the 1990s. It’s less of a newly conceived comedy and more of a prime-time haunting.
As before, the undercurrent is one of manhood in a state of perceived crisis. Burdened with the Hollywood interpretation of a suburban lifestyle and parenting duty, can a tough man really be a man in the face of such emasculating affronts as a paisley bedspread? At least Tim Taylor (the home-improvement TV host and family man that Allen gruntingly portrayed) had three sons, only one of whom exhibited anything remotely approaching a whiff of nerdiness or softness.
Now, as Mike Baxter, Allen lives in a home dominated by women, which is immediately presented as a personal nightmare: His wife (Nancy Travis) has gone back to work. His oldest daughter (Alexandra Krosney) is the single mother of a baby boy who lives at home and works as a diner waitress. A teenage daughter (Molly Ephraim) is a pampered whiner obsessed with a boy who likes to get mani-pedis and attend Lady Gaga concerts. As if to toss one more gender grenade into Mike’s realm, the writers of “Last Man Standing” envision the youngest daughter (Kaitlyn Dever) as a grumpy tomboy.
The idea is to overwhelm us with long-gone gender anxieties. Men are like this and women are like that — end of conversation! In an entirely avoidable coincidence, “Last Man Standing” is part of an unfortunate duet on ABC, with another bad sitcom premiering this month called “Man Up!,” which just as stupidly arranges itself around threats to 1950s notions of manhood.
Let me say that I’d be the first to enjoy a well-made comedy about whatever today’s men are feeling about their roles as husbands and fathers in an economy and culture that they think is marginalizing them. But I no longer have faith that the networks can make such a show.
Mike works for the catalogue of one of those overcompensating sporting-man retailers, which sends him on excursions to jungles and tundras to gin up sales imagery for “manly” boots, knives, archery gear and the like. When his boss decides that the young male market no longer reads catalogues, Mike is reassigned to the Web site, where he uploads video diatribes about the softening of the American male, bilingualism and whatever tea-party-lite issues the show heaps upon him. Within its 22 minutes, “Last Man Standing” reveals Mike to be homophobic, xenophobic and generally just phobic.
When his sporty daughter sits at the breakfast table and frets about her upcoming soccer game, Mike says: “Soccer! That’s just Europe’s covert war for the hearts and minds of America’s kids.”
“We’re scrimmaging the boys to make us tougher,” the daughter replies.
“Well, the boys aren’t that tough,” Mike says. “I’ve seen them play. They run around and get hair gel in their eyes and then run into the goal post and then they cryyyy.”
When Mike is tasked with dropping his grandson, Boyd, off at day care, he finds the place repugnantly enlightened, especially when he learns that “Ruby’s two dads” are teaching the children to make pumpkin and flax muffins.
Mike flees with Boyd and instead brings him to work, where he can be surrounded by hunting gear. Because otherwise the day care was going to make the baby gay. “You know how it ends up,” Mike says, in case it isn’t quite clear. “Boyd dancing on a float.” (A gay pride float — get it?)
It’s not surprising that Allen and ABC think this unga-unga shtick still has market potential, but I once again refer you to the eerie silence from “Last Man Standing’s” studio audience. It speaks volumes.
A Review from The LA Times
Television review: 'Last Man Standing'
Tim Allen returns to ABC as a grump with three daughters.
October 11, 2011|By Robert Lloyd, Los Angeles Times Television Critic
"Last Man Standing" is the show that brings Tim Allen back to situation comedy, and to ABC, where he starred on "Home Improvement" almost all the way through the 1990s. The series, which premieres Tuesday, is, like Allen's last, a multi-camera sitcom, which would be enough to deem it "old-fashioned" were there not a small rash of younger-generation multi-camera sitcoms also on this year. But it's pretty old-fashioned anyway.
I'd like to like this show. I feel somehow that I owe it to Allen for the hundred times I've enjoyed "Galaxy Quest" — "Home Improvement" never made that much of an impression on me — and to co-star Nancy Travis because I am a person who thinks that Nancy Travis should always be on television. It's not as if ABC hauled people off the street to make this series. Creator Jack Burditt was a writer and producer on "30 Rock" and "The New Adventures of Old Christine" and director John Pasquin produced "Home Improvement" and directed Allen in "The Santa Clause." But one feels that this is a case of people who can make situation comedies with their eyes closed making one with their eyes closed.
Allen's character, Mike Baxter, is pointedly a man of the past, of some imagined time when men slew dinosaurs and only women had feelings — a sort of cousin to Archie Bunker and to William Shatner's character on last season's "$#*! My Dad Says" and to any crusty curmudgeon who thinks the world has grown decadent since he was a lad. Mike is in charge of the catalog for a wilderness-goods company called Outdoor Man — "the blowgun and shotgun emporium," as wife Vanessa ( Travis) calls it. But now his boss (Hector Elizondo) is closing down the catalog, even though it "was voted best catalog by Catalog magazine," and taking his business to the Web, in order "to lure young men to our stuff."
"Now you sound like my sisters talking," says Mike, whose online diatribes against Things These Days will soon go viral: "What happened to men?" he rants. "Men used to build cities just so we could burn 'em down." Manliness and the lack of it is a minor theme in television this year — ABC also has "Man Up," premiering Oct. 18, whose characters are the sort Mike would use to prove his point — in a season that has, not coincidentally, offered a host of shows built around women. Mike himself is a male among females, with three daughters, played in descending order of age by Alexandra Krosney (single mother), Molly Ephraim (entitled) and Kaitlyn Dever (ironic). They mystify and worry him.
Like most TV grumps, his bark is worse than his bite, and his bark isn't that bad. Mike's character has been moderated to allow most viewers to agree with him some of the time — yes, kids are overprotected — and otherwise to find him wrongheaded but endearing. (Allen has worked that vein for some years.) His targets are mostly weightless — soccer, tanning beds, hippie day care — and what results is a show that feels at once toothless and mildly offensive.
The jokes and plots have been efficiently constructed, but most have no traction; they slide right off you, and the characters themselves seem disconnected from one another. Even Mike's rants feel remote, and remote-controlled. The comedy is much more promising when it slips into something more personal.
"I'm living with Lord Voldemort," No. 2 Daughter complains of Mike, exiting.
"I don't know who he is," he says to himself, hitting a lovely note of confused injury, "but he sounds like a very caring father."
More like that would be good.
A Review from The Boston Globe
‘Last Man Standing’ could use some improvement
October 11, 2011|By Sarah Rodman, Globe Staff
In the new ABC sitcom “Last Man Standing,’’ premiering tonight at 8 on Channel 5, Tim Allen stars as a macho man’s man who loves the outdoors and building and destroying stuff. He hosts a program where he discusses these issues and rants about what it means to be a man. At home he tries to navigate among a wise-cracking, no-nonsense wife and three children with different temperaments. He sometimes seeks advice from an older, wiser friend and finds himself exasperated by a quirky work colleague whom he often mocks.
Any resemblance to “Home Improvement’’ is purely intentional.
Indeed, the first thing Allen’s character says when he walks into his home is “I’m back!’’
If fans of that immensely popular ‘90s sitcom were to check out “Last Man Standing,’’ they could be forgiven if they thought they were actually seeing the continuing saga of bumbling-but-lovable handyman Tim “the Tool Man’’ Taylor. (Although they might be a little surprised at how cranky he’s become and wonder if he’s had a little work done.)
Instead, they will be getting the story of the bumbling-but-lovable Mike Baxter who works for Outdoor Man. For years he’s been traveling the world shooting exotic locales for the company catalog but, in these tough economic times, his boss Ed (Héctor Elizondo, “Pretty Woman’’) wants to ground him and have him beef up the website. This means Mike will be spending more time at home. Which is good since his wife, Vanessa, former Bay Stater Nancy Travis (“Three Men and a Baby’’), just got a promotion at work and could use his help with the kids.
There are two main, if slight, differences between Allen’s two shows. Baxter is the father to three daughters, as opposed to a trio of sons on “Home Improvement.’’ They are a young single mom, a “Glee’’ and boy-obsessed high school student, and a tomboy tween, to all of whom he haplessly gives advice. And in lieu of a TV show about home improvement where he gruffly barks in testosteriffic joy about being a man, he hosts a video blog where he laments that the world has become a place where he can no longer gruffly bark in testosteriffic joy about being a man.
For instance, he blanches at the touchy-feely day care where his eldest daughter takes her son. He worries, homophobically, that this “sensitive’’ approach to child-rearing may lead to his grandson one day dancing on a parade float. “The only time men should be dancing is when other men are shooting at their feet,’’ grouses Baxter.
He is also annoyed at soccer, which he calls “Europe’s covert war for the hearts and minds of America’s kids.’’
And yet. As borderline odious and stale as some of the jokes are in the pilot, “Last Man Standing’’ could be a fixer-upper.
Allen is clearly an old pro. And I do confess a soft spot for his “Galaxy Quest’’ and “Toy Story.’’ (The creators give one sly nod to Buzz Lightyear in the pilot.) He manages to make Baxter mostly relatable and less angry than the character could’ve been in a less-gifted sitcom actor’s hands. It is not hard to imagine men Baxter’s age voicing similar gripes, and his scenes with Travis actually generated a couple of chuckles. Elizondo is dependably offbeat.
If all of the characters receive some fleshing out - right now the whole broad enterprise seems better suited to the throwback style of TV Land - as the series progresses, don’t be surprised to find Allen settling into a new TV home.
For a Website dedicated to Last Man Standing go to http://last-man-standing.co/
For a Page dedicated to Last man Standing go to http://timvp.com/lastmanstanding.html
For The Official Site of Tim Allen go to http://www.timallen.com/
For The Tim Allen Home Page go to http://www.angelfire.com/id/timallen/
For a Bio of Hector Elizondo go to http://members.fortunecity.com/cordula/abios/elibios.html
To watch the opening credits of Last Man Standing go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EsI0_X7cbSA
· Date: Sun December 25, 2011 · Views: 2158 · Filesize: 41.4kb · Dimensions: 590 x 433 ·
Keywords: Last Man Standing Cast