Matt's Guide to Tuesday TV: Man Up! a Downer, Plus: X Factor's Top 16!
Oh, ABC. How adorable that you felt that your sad new sitcom Man Up! (8:30/7:30c) deserves an exclamation point. As in, maybe: Yikes, this sucks! The network describes this latest "comedy" about male insecurities as being "in the vein of The Hangover." Only in the vein of people who watch The Hangover and think: Boy, I wish I could be that funny.
As I noted in our Fall Preview issue, this one is "An insult to all genders. Fall TV's 'woe is man' trend [which has already hit the skids in two quickly canceled sitcoms, NBC's Free Agents and CBS's How to Be a Gentleman] goes belly up in a charmless buddy comedy where three tiresome stooges question their embattled masculinity while we ponder why ABC would pair this with the similarly themed Last Man Standing."
Put it this way: Tim Allen's character on Last Man Standing would revile the whiny neurotics taking center stage here, as they play video games at night to fantasize about what it would be like to say "I'm the man" and mean it. Meanwhile, the women in their lives snark and sneer, one calling her husband "man-nish" after mocking his fondness for pomegranate body wash. (To be fair, he has just nagged her to buy the non-dairy version of their hazelnut creamer.)
It's emasculation time in suburbia, as opposite-of-alpha male Will (Mather Zickel), the one with a wife and son, laments the "over-evolved generation of panty-waists" his tribe has become. To prove his point, his best buds are Craig (Christopher Moynihan, the show's creator), a weepy broken-hearted romantic who's a less funny variation on the guy Jake Johnson plays on Fox's infinitely funnier New Girl; and bearded ball of sputtering impotent rage Kenny (Dan Fogler), Will's miserably divorced brother-in-law, who's driven to apoplectic new lows by the arrival of his ex's sensitive-hunk boyfriend (NYPD Blue's Henry Simmons, whose New Age-y self-parody is the best thing in the show). When he gets really upset, Kenny reflects on his avatar of coolness to wonder: What Would Tobey Maguire Do?
Change the channel, I'm betting.
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Other happenings tonight:
After two bloated installments of the peculiar "judges' homes" rounds, in which contestants sang for their survival in the scenic back yards of the celebrity judges (while superstars Rihanna and Enrique Iglesias awkwardly looked on), with little context to what anyone was singing or why, Fox's The X Factor (8/7c) will now reveal who makes it in the Top 16. This coronation will be dragged out over two hours (sigh) as we learn who will be the top four contenders in each of four categories: girls, boys, over-30s and groups (the latter such a weak batch that the judges had to cobble together two groups from the ranks of solo performers who didn't make the cut). Expect plenty of tears from the winners and losers, especially in the grown-ups' group, whose members all seem to look at this as their last chance for the big time.
The Canadian police drama Flashpoint migrates from CBS to Ion TV with new episodes (10/9c), starting with "Grounded," in which the Strategic Response Unit deals with the hijacking of a passenger jet.
Just renewed (to absolutely no one's surprise) for a fifth season, FX's Sons of Anarchy (10/9c) presents a tense episode in which the club reacts badly, and of course violently, to the death threat planted in Tara's car — which we know to be a ruse designed by ex-sheriff Unser to tip off Jax's "old lady" that someone (namely Clay) wants her dead. Meanwhile, Clay reaches out to comfort Juice, who's still all twisted up in guilt over the fallout from last week's bloody debacle. Doesn't help that the authorities keep squeezing him for intel.
Guest star alerts: On the CW's Ringer (9/8c), which is finally picking up some steam, Veronica Mars fan fave Jason Dohring appears as a teacher at Juliet's new school. ... When the NCIS team (CBS, 8/7c) tracks the killer of a coast guard officer on a cargo vessel, they find a Lebanese family (including 24's Shohreh Aghdashloo) seeking American sanctuary. ... The Voice's flamboyant Cee Lo Green is wooed by Adam and Crosby to record at their refurbished music studio on NBC's Parenthood (10/9c).
So what else is on? ... Spike TV airs the Scream Awards 2011, taped Saturday, honoring the best genre entertainment, including one final salute to the Harry Potter franchise, with TV winners including Game of Thrones and its scene-stealers Peter Dinklage and Emilia Clarke, True Blood and its breakout studs Alexander Skarsgard and Joe Manganiello, and Doctor Who's Matt Smith. ... Rachel Zoe gives birth on Bravo's The Rachel Zoe Project (9/8c). ... And since it paid off for the Kardashians, why are we not surprised that A&E is devoting three hours to the wedding episode (plus post-wedding interview) of Gene Simmons and Shannon Tweed on Gene Simmons Family Jewels (9/8c).
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