Men are in crisis and this is no help

David Hornsby, left, plays Andrew Carlson, a genteel

David Hornsby, left, plays Andrew Carlson, a genteel etiquette columnist, and Kevin Dillon portrays Bert Lansing on "How to be a Gentleman." (Credit: CBS)

PREMIERE "How to Be a Gentleman"

WHEN|WHERE Sept. 29 at 8:30 on CBS

REASON TO WATCH It's on after "The Big Bang Theory."

WHAT IT'S ABOUT What a piece of work is man. At least contemporary men. If you haven't heard, they're in crisis. If you watch network prime time, you sure will have heard by the time all this fall's new shows roll out. From ABC's upcoming Tim Allen gripefest "Last Man Standing" to ABC's upcoming inner-adolescent-fest "Man Up!" to tonight's CBS arrival, "How to Be a Gentleman" -- to all those longing "Pan Am"/"Playboy Club" flashbacks to the days when bachelors ran wild and women's bras were pointy -- identity anxiety suffuses male days like the incessant rain that has flooded our shores, washing away stability and confidence.

With CBS being TV's class act when it comes to craftsmanship, their "manly" entry provides not one point of view, but two, or maybe three. David Hornsby ("It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia") stars as a polished young etiquette writer (really??) who knows "everything about being a gentleman but nothing about being a man." Whatever that means.

He's about to find out, apparently, from "Entourage's" Kevin Dillon, now a lunkhead personal trainer whose muscle-bound mien may be just the ticket to help Hornsby move toward his morphing magazine's new "holy grail" -- "men in their mid-to-late 30s who act like they're 15."

(The magazine editor's marching orders present that potential third manly perspective: Whichever way the wind blows, make money off it.)

MY SAY There's no "here" here. The jokes throw desperate punch lines like "cancer of the penis." And the show's structure meanders all over, unsure whether to settle as a live-audience sitcom (there's a laugh track) or a single-camera rumination, or some sort of hybrid a la "How I Met Your Mother."

BOTTOM LINE How He Met His Id. Ouch.

GRADE C-

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