October 02, 2011

TV: How to Be a Gentleman (CBS, Thu 8:30)

What a mess.

"How to Be a Gentleman" is the column that Andrew (David Hornsby) writes for an Esquire-ish mens' magazine. It's devoted to the old-fashioned finer virtues of elegance and refinement. But when Andrew's editor (Dave Foley) informs that the magazine's been sold to new owners who want to move it a few notches down the classy ladder ("they've decided to increase readership by appealing to people who don't read"), Andrew is at a loss.

A series of sitcom coincidences bring Andrew back into touch with Bert (Kevin Dillon), who had been his high school bully and now works as a personal trainer. It's not long before Andrew realizes that Bert is the answer to his writing challenge, and we're set up for a series in which Bert teaches Andrew how to be a dude and Andrew teaches Bert how to be a gentleman; it's an Odd Couple for the new millennium.

There are a lot of problems here. The writing is flat and unfunny, wasting a lot of fine comic actors in supporting roles (Mary Lynn Rajskub and Rhys Darby as Andrew's sister and her husband; Nancy Lenehan as Andrew's mother). But worst of all are the two lead actors, who are both incredibly irritating. In Dillon's case, I'll put most of the blame on the conception of the character, who is written as such a bullying asshole that no actor could make him likable or funny.

But the problems with Andrew lie mostly at Hornsby's feet. One can be a gentleman without being a simpering priss, but Hornsby plays the character as someone who longs for the days of valets and ascots, and he's affected a speaking voice that is painfully whiny and petulant. By the end of the episode, hell, I wanted to give the little twit a noogie or two.

This is an absolute disaster, without doubt the worst new sitcom of the year so far.

No comments: