October 24, 2016

SHOWBUZZDAILY Series Premiere Review: “Man With A Plan”


MAN WITH A PLAN:  Monday 8:30PM on CBS – Change the Channel

As the traditions of television splinter around them, the broadcast networks have fled en masse to TV comfort food this fall–but for CBS, that’s no more than the status quo.  Aside from its Robert & Michelle King shows, the network hasn’t moved a creative inch in twenty years, and nowhere is that more evident than in its Monday sitcom line-up, which tonight added MAN WITH A PLAN to Kevin Can Wait, 2 Broke Girls and The Odd Couple, a roster so mired in the past that its casts might as well wear caps with the slogan Make American Sitcoms Great Again.

Everything about Man With A Plan is determinedly retro.  Its center is occupied by Friends star Matt LeBlanc (now sharing a night with onetime co-star Matthew Perry and fellow 90s funnyman Kevin James), the series creators are Jackie and Jeff Filgo, whose sitcom credits go back to That 70s Show, and the pilot director is the Master of Multi-Camera himself, James Burrows.  The opposite-of-cutting-edge premise presents Adam (LeBlanc), a contractor with flexible work hours who’s agreed to let wife Andi (Liza Snyder) go back to full-time work now that their youngest is in kindergarten, and who–ye Gods!–now has to take care of their 3 kids (Grace Kaufman, Hala Finley and Matthew McCann) until mom gets home each evening.  Can he handle such crises as the young’uns not cleaning their trash out of the family car and neglecting their chores?  Will his masculinity survive being a “class mom” and having to spend time with the emasculated Lowell (Matt Cook)?  The mind reels.

No, seriously–the mind reels.  LeBlanc played a sly version of himself on Showtime’s Episodes (which still has one season left to air), but here all he needs to do is revert to his dumb-but-goodhearted Joey Tribbiani mode and shovel in the money, and he doesn’t even try to overdeliver.  Snyder is a stereotypical brash-but-supportive wife, and the kids are generic blanks.  The Filgos’ script has the stupefied fascination with young people and 21st-century culture that many CBS viewers probably share; the key moment of the pilot has Adam gaining control over his children by threatening their internet access.  Burrows directs the half-hour with all the slickness 40 years in the business provides, but without his trademark touch of finding a human center within the sitcom silliness.

There’s no reason to think fans of Kevin Can Wait, 2 Broke Girls and The Odd Couple will think any less of Man With A Plan, and that’s all CBS is asking.  Its plan isn’t necessarily great in the long term, since it will do nothing to make the CBS brand younger or more upscale, but those older, less sophisticated eyeballs are attached to viewers who don’t care much about streaming, or VOD, or dramedy, or anything new or different.  That’s CBS’s plan, and the network is sticking to it.

NETWORK FINAL:  Even The Laugh-Track Sounds Old.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."