There's an old saying at the Television Critics press tour, wrapping right about now, that goes something like this: The funnier the panel session, the grimmer the show.
In other words, if the panel is a lot of fun, then -- inversely -- the show is a deadly stew of misfired jokes, bad puns and otherwise dreadful sitcomy schlock.
So what is one of think, then, of Tim Allen's extremely amusing session this morning for "Last Man Standing?"
A bad sign? Or just an anomaly?
Whatever: Allen worked the crowd, and worked it well, and whether that translates into glowinmg and glorious praise for his his first TV role in 12 years of course remains to be seen.
But all due credit to waking up the press tour, which is pretty much on its knees just before the finish line.
Here are some soundbites from Allen's morning session. He's mostly serious here -- I think -- in talking about his new show, which is about a guy whose life is pretty much run by women. The wonderful Nancy Travis co-stars.
On the offers he got before taking this show:
Oh, there were thousands. (Laughter.) Thousands. I think there were just hundreds. Well, millions, literally, of offers. Every day was an offer. I had an offer office (laughter) . . . really, thank you for that. It’s going to be a long day . . . The other offers . . . it was never oddly enough, it was never the same show. And I said, 'I don’t know why we would not do a version of the same show rather than put me in a legal drama' and there were several of those. What I really like is “Castle.” I like that. I would have done something like that. I think that was it, but that was already done. And there were some shows and I can’t even tell you because it’s too embarrassing, and I’m not going to tell you, although it’s right here. I could, but I’m not going to. They cast a woman in the part they actually looked for me in. There’s one on the air now that I circled, and we read it, and it was really good. But they decided not to, and they cast a woman in it.
On how cheap ABC is now versus the good old profligate days...
Well, what did you guys get from catering today? Let’s start there. How was breakfast? Hmm? (Laughter.) Hmm? (Indicating) look at the size of the Cokes. Hmm? Remember the 12-ounce bottle? It’s a tighter, leaner ship at ABC. That the whole thing, the landscape, as you all know, has changed, between I have probably like all of us 5 ,600 stations. Or, you know, you have that capacity between Hulu and Internet and cable. You have a lot of different choices now, and the network, is free TV, as they still call it, but the landscape is very different. I believe . . . “Home Improvement,” at one point, we were doing 28 share and sometimes we’d get up to 30 share. Like coordinated, it’s 30 million viewers. We could tell the president what to do at that time. We’d call him up, “Try to” . . . just to mess with him, we’d call him, and just, “We don’t like you,” and we’d hang up. But they’d answer. It’s just the landscape has changed. Everything is, I don’t want to say cheaper, but I just did.
There’s less revenue. There’s less of everything. So you got to do better with less. Sometimes leaner is better. In this case, it’s not. I’m just kidding. (Laughter.)
Not a case that it is, but we drink water out of a hose. Let me put it that.
On what his show is about, kind of...
Now, I’m going to get in trouble here because Joy Behar from “The View,” we’ve already had this conversation. (Laughter.)
I think men that tend to their own knitting, as my mom used to call it. I really believe that men need stuff to do. I’ve always thought that. As my mom says, “Devil’s hands are the idle hands,” or “Idle hands are the devil’s hands.” Men need stuff to do. You have to have hobbies, and you should be able to fix stuff. I really have always believed that men should do that stuff, and my grandma, my aunt, both said, “There’s nothing more attractive than a guy busy doing something.” You know, time flies, and I like the same thing maybe it’s traditional, but I said — Joy Behar and I got into this on her show, and we know each other. I like women that know how to cook. I don’t know how to cook very well.
I like the process of letting a woman take care of you, and it’s either old school or misogynistic, and she said, “Why don’t you just marry Betty Crocker?” She got real mad at me, and she took offense to it. I said, “No, there’s the women in my life ... like cooking. They like cooking for their men.” And the men in my life like futzing around the house and being able to take care of a home and little things. And when men lose this capacity to mortise and tenon with wood, we’re kind of left with nothing to do, like those big drone bees that’s get kicked out of the hive. You’ve seen them.