Today, I am feeling charitable. Here we have Last Man Standing (not to be confused with Last Man Standing), Tim Allen's return to sitcoms, in which he finds himself out of work and his wife getting a promotion, so finds himself having to stay at home to look after the kids and the house. His character is a clueless embodiment of patriarchy and "manliness", a man's man who loves rooms that "smell like balls" and thinks men should only dance when people are shooting at their feet, who has no idea what Glee is, and takes babies to Blowdart and Shotgun emporia. It's also a single camera comedy with an annoying laughter track and no fewer than five nuclear power stations flooding every set with over-lighting.
Normally, I would hate it and hit it with bricks.
And I do still largely hate it, because it's barely in any way funny, largely trying to get by on obvious and offensive one-liners that really should be shot at and forced to dance.
But instead, I'm going to be charitable and claim it's educational. Yes, educational. It may suck, but like all the new multi-camera comedies this season that are virtually laugh-free (e.g. 2 Broke Girls, Whitney), lots of Americans are watching it (13m in this case) and the kinds of people who are watching it probably need to know what a vlog is, understand that throwing giant fish they've just caught onto their children's homework is bad, and need to know that it's okay for men to stay at home and look after the kids.
Ah, thank heavens for cable TV. Although network TV has been producing some perfectly acceptable dramas this fall season, the miss rate has been a lot higher than the hit rate. Cable, however, with the obvious exception of Starz, has a far better success rate.
You know what else? Thank heavens for Israeli TV. Although you could argue over the merits of The Ex-List and Traffic Light for a while, they were at least a cut above the normal fare, and Israeli TV has at least indisputably given us the basis for the surefire cracker that was In Treatment. Now Israeli show Prisoners of War has given us the basis for Homeland, starring Claire Danes and Damian Lewis and adapted for US TV by former 24 producers Alex Gansa and Howard Gordon.
Bearing more than a passing resemblance to AMC's Rubicon, the thankfully faster-paced Homeland sees obsessive CIA analyst Danes convinced that returning war hero and former prisoner of war Damian Lewis has in fact been turned and is really working for al Qaeda. All she's got to do is prove it, even though no one else believes her, not even her mentor, best friend and boss Mandy Patinkin. In fact, given she's on anti-psychotic drugs, there's a very good chance she actually is crazy. All the same, to prove her hunch is correct, Danes is going to do anything she has to - whether Lewis is innocent or not.
You don't know what I'm talking about, do you? Well, here's the thing. Apparently, men don't know how to be men any more. We just don't know. We're all confused. Are we supposed to be macho and manly real men or are we really just overgrown children, playing with our Playstations all day while women run the world? Are we unemployable morons? Are we uncouth and ill-mannered - and is that what a true man is and what a woman really wants?
These are not questions I'm asking by the way. These are the questions that US TV networks - particularly ABC - are asking through the medium of the sitcom. We've got Last Man Standing, Man UpandWork It coming our way from ABC (read more about them over here, if you're a glutton for punishment), but CBS has fired the opening salvo in this particular gender war with How To Be A Gentleman, in which a reasonably nice, well mannered guy is forced to become friends with one of his former High School bullies (Kevin Dillon) in an effort to discover what it is to be a real man.
Sounds bad, doesn't it? But you know what? Even though CBS is the home of the horrific Mike and Molly and Two and a Half Men, while ABC has given us Modern Family and Suburgatory, How To Be A Gentlemen is actually a lot subtler and nicer than you might have thought. Here's a trailer.
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A UK media blog focusing on the best scripted TV from around the world, with daily news, views, exclusive reviews and good conversation. There's a bit of a bias towards the latest and greatest US TV, but we also cover Scandinavian, Canadian, European and Antipodean TV, as well as UK TV ranging from new Doctor Who to old Z Cars, and BBC4 to S4C.
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"For most of us watching the telly of an evening is a way to wind down and relax, but for Rob Buckley it’s his blogging bread and butter. With reviews of cult classics and up and coming US and Brit television shows, The Medium is Not Enough is fast becoming essential reading for TV buffs, with over 50,000 hits a month."
"The Medium Is Not Enough is a light-hearted look at TV, often from the US, but also from the UK. With varied, well-written content, the blog features healthy engagement and features well in search engines."
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I'm Rob Buckley, a freelance journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of, although you might have heard me on Radio 5 Live's Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I've edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for trade magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider and the equally short-lived Death Ray and Filmstar magazines; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it "web site for urban hedonists" The Tribe. I'm freelance now and have contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network and TV Scoop.