Archive | 4:30 pm

Fall 2011 Review: How to Be A Gentleman

11 Oct

I expected How to Be A Gentleman to be truly despicably awful on the level of Whitney, but it really wasn’t on that level, it was just merely not good at all.  It wasn’t cringeworthy.  I didn’t have trouble getting through the show.  It was just quite bad.

The premise is that David Hornby (Rickety Cricket from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) portrays an old school “gentleman” who opens doors for women and helps old ladies cross the street, and writes a column titled “How to Be A Gentleman” about well, you can figure it out.  His magazine, boss Dave Foley, lets him know, has been bought and is changing its target, and if he wants to remain employed he’ll make his column young and edgy and far less Gentleman-like.  Of course, he doesn’t know anything of that world.  He uses a birthday gift from his sister (Mary Lynn Rajskub, or Chloe from 24) for a training session at a gym which it turns out is run by a old high school bully, Bert Lansing (Kevin Dillon, or Entourage’s Johnny Drama virtually reprising his role).  Bert, feeling guilty about all the bullying years ago, is a bro, who wants to help Hornby’s character out, and Hornby, needing to learn this lifestyle for his column agrees.

It’s a CBS comedy and it feels like a CBS comedy.  The laughter is canned, the angle is multi-camera, and there are slow breaks between jokes as we gather ourselves to prepare for the next one.

Even in a weak new season for comedy (New Girl is the best, and it’s not great), How To Be A Gentleman is fairly terrible.  One of my issues is that it conflates being a “Gentleman” with being a total loser.  I’m not sure why those things need to go together, but that seems to be what’s going on here.  His family, at his birthday dinner, notes what a loser he is and how he wouldn’t have to be if he wasn’t so uptight, or in his mind, so gentlemanly.  It’s kind of irritating to watch just how loser-ish he is time and again, more so than anyone would be in real life.  Every character is far over the top, unrelatable, and not funny.

This is one of a mini-trend of sitcoms about emasculated men searching for manliness with ABC sitcoms Man Up and Last Man Standing.  I’m really to think of a way for the trend to work, but it seems misguided from the get go.

Will I watch it again?  No.  I honestly wish the cast assembled had something a bit better to work with but I can’t in good conscience be wasting time with a lousy show like this when there are so many better shows on tv.

Rankings the Show I Watch – 15: It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

11 Oct

It’s frankly amazing how long this show has been on the air, and just how big it’s become.  The scientific factor I use to determine its popularity is number of green men, the green lyrca full body suit mascot that Charlie wears during a couple of episodes.  I see at Philadelphia and national sporting events, and on Halloween.  The actual suit only appeared in three episodes of the series, and yet it spawned a phenomenon as green men are everywhere.

The show has the potential to get tiresome. In each episode, the “gang” – as the characters are known find a topic, be it racism, terrorism, abortion, or sometimes less political and more random, and go off, offending tons of people in the process and coming out making fools of themselves.  Yet it stays relatively fresh, and the writers have done a pretty good job of thinking of material that is new enough to keep me laughing.  I really tried to hold off this comparison for as long as could, even though I wanted to use it all article, but Curb Your Enthusiasm really is by far the most similar show on TV to It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.  They’re both basically shows that apply a similar process to a new set of facts every episode. You can enter a situation into the It’s Always Sunny machine, and it’s pretty easy to figure out how things are going to go, but it still generally ends up being pretty funny.  Like in Curb, it’s all about the main characters, and everyone else is the world is just someone for them to play off of. While in Curb about equal times the other characters are crazy or normal, in It’s Always Sunny, they’re generally normal conservative folks who are utterly outraged by the gang’s lewd, selfish and inappropriate behavior.

Highlights of the last season include Dennis implying that Mac and he will bring some women onto a boat, and since they can’t get off, there will be an “implication,” which is disturbing even for Mac.  Another highlight is the gang’s drunken memories in flashback form of a Halloween party in which Dee may have gotten pregnant, and in which Dee is remembered as more and more birdlike, eventually ending up as an ostrich.

Looking over the episode list, there aren’t quite as many stone cold classics as there have been in previous seasons, though to be fair, my opinions could change, for good or ill, with a second viewing.

Why It’s This High:  No show generates more out loud laughs than It’s Always Sunny, even after six years; Charlie makes me laugh.

Why it’s not higher:  It’s a little bit hit and miss, a little bit repetitive, some episodes are better than others, some of the best ideas were used seasons ago

Best Episode of the Most Recent Season:  “Mac’s Big Break” – My friends and I became somewhat obsessed with this strange part of the episode in which Dennis uses a strange voice on his radio show asking about the US’s involvement in two wars – I can’t find anything on youtube, so you’ll just have to watch the full episode.