October 7, 2013

THE SKED Pilot + 1 Review: “We Are Men”


WE ARE MEN:  Monday 8:30PM on CBS

A lot can happen between the creation of a TV pilot and the production of regular episodes: writer/producers may be hired or fired, audience focus groups weigh in, networks and studios (which may have had their own turnover) give plenty of notes, helpful and otherwise, and critics start to rear their ugly heads. Tone, pace, casting, and even story can change. Here at THE SKED, we’re going to look past the pilots and present reviews of the first regular season episodes as well.

Previously… on WE ARE MEN:  Carter (Chris Smith), whose recent engagement stopped short of the altar, has joined a colony of men without women at a San Fernando Valley apartment complex.  Frank (Tony Shalhoub), Stuart (Jerry O’Connell) and Gil (Kal Penn) are all in various stages of divorce, and each, in his own way, is that guy you pray won’t be setting next to you on an airplane.  While one-night stands are the guys’ default setting, Carter is instantly enamored of Frank’s nubile daughter Abby (Rebecca Breeds).  Too bad Frank is so maniacally overprotective of his little girl.

Episode 2:  We Are Men may be the most multi-camera-ish single-camera comedy ever.  Much of the action of this first regular episode had the stars confined to a single location, and there might as well have been a live studio audience in there with them, since all the acting and writing was pitched to the cheap seats.

It would have been too much to hope that a pilot as bad as We Are Men could produce a series worth watching, and the show’s second-half hour, written by Executive Producer Bob Daily and directed by Adam Arkin (who seems to be trying to prove his versatility, since his day directing job is as producer-director of The Americans), didn’t try to change anybody’s mind.  The main plot had Stuart, furious that his most recent ex claimed custody of their dog, deciding to kidnap the golden retriever, which required the quartet to break into his house and stay there, first waiting for the dog to be brought back from her walk and then trapped when Peaches didn’t want to be relocated.  Silliness ensued, but not the funny kind:  Gil went to the bathroom (the show didn’t even come up with a bad taste gag for that) and Frank longed to open a bottle of Stuart’s expensive wine.  Other jokes included Stuart, an ob-gyn, talking pleasantly to his patients when they called but insulting them once they hung up, the possibility that the dog was racist, and the guys watching a video of Stuart’s honeymoon night.  Eventually the ex showed up at Stuart’s to take the dog back, but first she and Stuart had angry sex together as Frank, trapped in the bathroom, had to listen–and since Frank was captive, Carter took the opportunity to talk up Abby, which Frank had previously forbidden.

It was a wearying, unfunny 22 minutes, and as talented as Tony Shalhoub and Kal Penn are, nothing in it made a viewer want to watch them again.  Smith seems as bland as can be, and the best to be said about O’Connell is that at least he only took his shirt off once this week.  It’s a sight we’re unlikely to have to bear for long:  We Are Men got off to a terrible start in the ratings last week with a 2.0 that lost more than a point off its How I Met Your Mother lead-in, and while NBC would throw a parade and alert the media for that kind of number, it’s probably a death sentence at CBS, especially if it sinks any lower this week–which new shows typically do in their second airing.  Its passing won’t be the occasion for much mourning.

ORIGINAL VERDICT;  Change the Channel

PILOT + 1:  Is This Still On?



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."