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WWK Fall TV Preview 2011

How's this for a genius new concept? A group of friends in different types of relationships and different stages of life, all in one TV show!

Oh right, we've seen this before a gazilion times. And with some slight alterations, the plot of ABC's new comedy Man Up is more or less the same thing.

The added plot twist (and we use the word "twist" very, very loosely) is that the three men the show follows discover they are not exactly the men their fathers were, which puts them on a pretty silly path of self-discovery.

So should you follow along on their journey to manhood? Here's what you need to know:

Man Up (NBC)
Premieres Friday, Oct. 18, 8:30 p.m.
Time-Slot Competition: NCIS (CBS), Glee (Fox), 90210 (CW), The Biggest Loser (NBC)
Christopher Moynihan, Dan Fogler, Mather Zickel, Amanda Detmer, Teri Polo, Henry Simmons
Status: We've seen the pilot episode

The opening scene of the pilot pretty much tells you all you need to know about the three main guys. They're all playing a Call of Duty-type video game, with headsets. And they are real into it. Here is the breakdown of the three friends:

  • Will Keen (Zickel) plays what we have labeled a "poor man's Phil Dunphy." He's the married-with-kids man, kind of a bumbling goof, but slightly more put-together than Phil. He just wants to show his 13-year-old son what it means to be a man.
  • Craig Griffith (Moynihan) is the man of the group most in touch with his inner woman. He's sweet and sensitive, plus since his former love is getting married, he's wounded.
  • Kenny Hayden (Fogler) fits right into the "slacker" character mold, even though he works with the other two, so he's a…working slacker? He's got ex-wife problems, and that's really affecting his manhood.

The dynamic between the guys is the main draw of the show. Men will definitely relate to one or all of them, and their chemistry as a group is a real highlight. The whole "we're not as manly as previous generations" concept is not beaten over your head as much as you'd think, and it actually makes for some funny situations. At one point Will asks Kenny to be like the manliest man he knows, and Kenny's go-to macho dude is…Tobey Maguire. Thus, "WWTMD?" is born.

Also thrown into the mix is Grant (Simmons), who has a lot of Old Spice Guy qualities to him (oh-so-handsome and smooth), and his manliness obviously bugs the rest of the guys. Especially Kenny, since Grant is dating his ex-wife, Bridgette. Speaking of, Bridgette, played by Amanda Detmer, is way too hot to have married Kenny…but there is a history of that in television shows so we'll let it slide. Henry plays Grant perfectly, even if some of the character attributes seem copied from Isaiah Mustafa.

Will's wife, Theresa (Teri Polo of Meet the Fockers fame), is also Bridgette's best friend, so it's clear the whole gang is thrown together a lot. With ex-wives and new boyfriends and close friends all mashed together, zaniness often ensues. But the zaniness involves a pretty funny wedding crash in the first episode, which leads up to a fight in the front lawn during a child's birthday party. Sounds like a Modern Family episode logline, but at least Man Up handled it well.

Some of the formula can seem tired, but there are definitely some quotable lines in the pilot, and the guys' interactions are easily amusing. Unfortunately, Man Up is against juggernauts Glee and NCIS on Tuesday nights, so its future is not looking too bright unless it can find a way to grab the same type of audience Modern Family has reined in.

Verdict: DVR. Man Up has enough Modern Family-like qualities to warrant a couple weeks' viewing to see if it turns into something special.