Working their way up to 'Man'-hood

A scene from the pilot episode of "Man

A scene from the pilot episode of "Man Up!" (Credit: ABC/)

THE SHOW "Man Up!," ABC/7, 8:30 p.m. Tuesday

REASON TO WATCH For Dan Fogler fans or (gosh darn it) because you just like ABC sitcoms!

WHAT IT'S ABOUT In the frantic opening shot, our three heroes are battling to the death (virtually) as each unleashes explosive salvos on the other in some video game like "God of War" or "Killer 7," which they are playing mercilessly and remotely. "You the man . . . No, you the man . . . no, you the man" they yell at each other through their headphone sets. Of course, they are not quite the man, but (as one of their spouses note) "man-ish." Specifically, these pals -- Will (Mather Zickel), Kenny (Fogler) and Craig (Christopher Moynihan) -- are all about 30-ish going on 13-ish. In the pilot, Will -- who's married to Theresa (Teri Polo) -- is struggling to decide what to get his son for his upcoming birthday, while Kenny is about to meet his ex's new boyfriend, Grant (Henry Simmons.) Craig is still pining for the love of his life who is about to get married.

MY SAY Fogler is sort of the poor man's Jack Black -- or the rich man's Jack Black, depending on what you may think of Black. Full of manic energy and a voice that can rise or descend an octave at will, he has enough talent to win a Tony -- which he did for 2005's "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" -- although the big Hollywood break has eluded him, unless ping-pong farce "Balls of Fury" qualifies as big. He's the man-boy of this trio, or the Zach Galifianakis counterpart from "The Hangover," which he and "Man Up!" very much want to channel. Does he? Does this? Only fleetingly, much too fleetingly. There's a lot of noisy energy that swirls around the core premise of grown men adrift in their manhood. But it tends to be more noise than wit.

BOTTOM LINE "Man Up!" isn't as bad as it sounds. There's a smoldering ember of promise here, mainly in the cast, even if the pilot tended to smother it.

GRADE C+

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