REVIEW: Last Man Standing – ABC (Tuesday, 8:00 p.m.)

Today it’s a woman’s world, and this man’s man is on a mission to get men back to their rightful place in society.

Tim Allen returns to ABC in this new comedy from Jack Burditt (“30 Rock”). Men may have built civilizations, invented the locomotive and created ESPN, but they’re about to find out that it’s not a man’s world anymore. You can’t get manlier than Mike Baxter. He’s the marketing director for an iconic outdoor sporting goods store, he loves to have adventures while he’s traveling for work and, of course, he drives a pick-up truck. While Mike is king of the hill at work, he’s the odd man out in a home that is dominated by women — namely his wife, Vanessa, and their three daughters, 22- year-old Kristin, 17-year-old Mandy and 14-year-old Eve. After being a stay-at-home mom for years, Vanessa recently returned to the workplace and was quickly promoted (much to the dismay of her primarily male co-workers). As a result of Vanessa’s increased work load, Mike is pulled into more hands-on parenting than ever before. – ABC

75 out of 100

As we noted in our new show preview back in May, we didn’t have a whole lot of hope for Last Standing on its face due to our biases against sitcoms in general and of course the fact that it makes no bones about the male-bashing agenda of the show.  We did, however, note that if there’s anyone who can make this series watchable, it’s always likeable Tim Allen because after all, one look at the trailer can lead you to only one conclusion: you’re watching the 2011 version of Home Improvement.

Well, gold stars for us across the board, we guess.  We couldn’t have predicted this any better.  This show is exactly what we though it would be; a comedy centered around this notion that in general, men are idiotic and boorish buffoons and if this show was done with anyone else but Allen as the lead it would be an awful waste of time.

Last Man Standing literally is a complete redo of Home Improvement and even the wife (played by nancy Travis) is the exact same character as Jill Taylor (Patricia Richardson) from Home Improvement.  And truthfully, as much as you’d think we’d have a problem with this lack of originality, we don’t.

As we noted, Tim Allen has probably been the most likable guy next to Jay Leno on American television over the last two decades.  He’s everyone’s dad and he plays this role (which is really just a caricature of himself) as perfectly as he played it on Home Improvement for eight years and let’s be honest, Home Improvement was consistently a hit for eight seasons because it was well-written and Allen made it great. It was one of the few comedies that you can always turn on and expect to be funny and this show isn’t a whole lot different in that regard.

Is this the greatest show or even comedy of the last decade?  Oh, Hell no, but it works and Allen’s a pro and he makes it work.  Last Man Standing  suffers from all of the problems that most sitcoms do with recycled plotlines and dialogue and clichéd situations and episode resolutions, but when you get past that, the writing manages to pull itself together despite some mediocre performances from some of the supporting cast because Allen just makes it happen.

And, yes, there were some very mediocre (not awful, just mediocre) performances from the supporting cast on this show with the exception of Travis, Hector Elizondo (Allen’s boss on the show, Ed) and, of course, Allen.  To put it bluntly, the kids are pretty weak but to in all honesty, they are very young and have pretty thin professional résumés and none of them have extensive consistent series work on the same show.  So, we expect that to improve because we can say that right now they have a lot going for them.  First, they are all very cute and we know we let a lot slide with Princess ‘Tastic because she’s so damned cute so we expect audiences will do the same with these young ladies, and second, they have the crutch of Tim Allen to nursemaid them through their growing pains and that will probably be enough.

This is a surprisingly a good show and with Allen headlining should become a hit for ABC.

You can watch full episodes of Last Man Standing, here.

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