MAN WITH A PLAN SERIES PREMIERE PLOT SUMMARY:
With his wife Andi (Liza Snyder) returning to work, Adam (Matt LeBlanc) takes on extra responsibilities when it comes to raising their kids.
Even though Friends was on when I was still watching cartoons and I’ve rarely paid attention to the show during reruns, I’m well aware of its status in popular culture. The main cast is still regularly associated with the show. They’ve found a decent amount of success since then, but some of them more than others. I knew that Matt LeBlanc was on the series Episodes and apparently it’s gone well for him, earning him a Golden Globe and several Emmy nominations. But with that going off, it appears he needed a job. That’s where Man With a Plan comes in.
I didn’t know anything about it other than it being a sitcom featuring Matt LeBlanc, but knowing the rest of CBS’ lineup, I had a good idea what to expect. And I have to say, it’s as I thought it would be, your typical multi-camera family sitcom with your smart aleck dad trying to please his wife and deal with his kids’ antics. Cue the laugh track.
I’ve previously said that laugh tracks are antiquated and need to go, but now I’m going to call for an indefinite moratorium on family sitcoms. I realize the format’s essentially been around since the inception of television, but we still have some on right now. And even though shows like Friends and The Big Bang Theory have their own formula, they haven’t worn their welcome quite yet.
Now, even by-the-numbers shows can transcend their nature if they have solid writing, but aside from a few good lines, Matt LeBlanc just carries Man with a Plan with his charisma. Also, I wouldn’t say he has the best chemistry with Liza Snyder, but I can believe their characters are married more than some other TV couples. That’s a good thing, since apparently Jenna Fischer was let go from the role for not having enough chemistry with LeBlanc. As for his kids, I don’t really see them becoming endearing at all, if that’s a goal for the future, since they’re self-centered and bratty. But then again, this is just the pilot.
One thing that I know will not catch on is Lowell (Matt Cook), the emasculated stay-at-home dad who looks to the manlier Adam as a role model. I’m not sure if the obsession goes any deeper than that but it’s not really that funny. A dad picking up one or two traditionally motherly tendencies is good for a quick joke, but the whole premise of a character? Stay-at-home dads aren’t that uncommon nowadays. I sense Lowell becoming the Jar Jar Binks of the show, if it lasts long enough.
Will the show survive long enough? My instincts say no, but so far fate has been kind this fall season. CBS has ordered a full season for a similar newcomer, Kevin Can Wait, though perhaps the demand for Kevin James is higher than it is for Matt LeBlanc. It was enough for Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 to make money.
Assuming this show does last, I’d say give it a shot if family sitcoms are your thing or you just want to put something on in the background. Its cheap humor might elicit a few half-heartedly laughs, largely due to Matt LeBlanc. If you have better things to do though, I’d skip it.
As for the fall season, fear not, the cancellations will start coming when that show with the talking dog rolls around, if not sooner.
RATING: 6 OUT OF 10 (AVERAGE)
Man With a Plan Airs Mondays at 8:30 PM on CBS
Aaron Sarnecky is Pop-Break’s television editor and covers Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., among other things. He is a graduate of Rowan University with a degree in television and film. He probably remembers that show you forgot existed. Follow him on Twitter: @AaronSarnecky