How to Be a Gentleman
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 of this fall’s new shows roll out.
From ABC’s upcoming Tim Allen gripe-fest “Last Man Standing” to ABC’s upcoming inner-adolescent-fest “Man Up!” to tonight’s CBS arrival, “How to Be a Gentleman” — to say nothing of all those longing “Pan Am”/“Playboy Club” flashbacks to the days when bachelors ran wild and women’s bras were pointy — identity anxiety suffuses TV’s male characters like an incessant rain, washing away stability and confidence.
Since CBS is TV’s class act when it comes to craftsmanship, the network’s “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.)
The jokes throw desperate punch lines such as “cancer of the penis.” And the show’s structure meanders, unsure whether to settle on being 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.”
On TV: “How to Be a Gentleman” debuts Monday night at 8:30 on CBS/2.