Sunday, October 26, 2014

TV: The axe falls

When ABC's Manhattan Love Story tanked in its debut and bled viewers in the following three weeks, the network was shocked.

To out of touch suits, the show seemed a sure thing.  One programming suit exclaimed that it was this decade's Dharma & Greg.

That anyone could think that goes a long, long way towards explaining not just how the hideous 'sitcom' got a slot on the fall schedule but also how the show bombed so quickly and so hard.

That's the heavily circulated promo photo ABC put out for the show.

It telegraphs all that is wrong with the alleged romantic sitcom.

In a romantic comedy, who are the stars?

The couple who will overcome odds and fall in love.

The leads are not the couple in the center, they're the ones on the far right.

Even in the promotional material, ABC couldn't get things right.

But that photo points to much more.

For example, Kurt Fuller?

Who the hell wants his tired ass in a romantic comedy?

ABC insists there were older characters on Dharma & Greg.  Yes, each had parents.

There were four older characters --two men and two women.

Is Fuller paired with the young woman standing next to him?  No, that's Chloe Wepper playing the daughter of Fuller's character.

Romantic comedy.

Greg of Dharma & Greg was not a dog. (The highly handsome Thomas Gibson played the role.)

Series lead Jake McDorman can't make the same claim.

Yes, the heavily photo-shopped publicity shot did manage to make McDorman look thin but even all that photo shop allows cannot make McDorman attractive.

Do looks matter?

In a romantic comedy, they do.

And they mattered in this series when it came to women.

The female series lead, Analeigh Tipton, isn't just an actress, she's also a model (one who heavily resembles Denise Richards from certain angles).  So, yes, she had to be beautiful.

But Nicholas Wright doesn't have to be, does he?

He's the male in the center couple, the one sporting the look of Max on One Day At A Time, a look viewers strongly rejected in the hirsute seventies and one that has not come into vogue in the many years since.  As a hygiene challenged troll in Accidentally On Purpose, Wright was funny.  Especially his slow burn as one hot woman after another shot him down.

But in the fantasy land of ABC, he lands the hot Jade Catta-Pretta?

Even Chloe is cute.

But chubby, schlubby Jake McDorman is the best looking of the males?

Looks do matter.

And when the three female leads in your sitcom are all pretty and the three men are all repugnant, unless the sitcom is entitled Trolls: A Love Story, the audience is going to grasp that they're being sold an inferior product.

That should have been obvious to ABC from the start, even before the leads were cast.

On what basis did the network believe Jeff Lowell could create a romantic comedy?

His work on The Drew Carey Show?

Did they think executive producer Peter Traugott could steer the romance challenged Lowell over the bumps and potholes?

If so, based on what?

His past work on According to Jim?

Two men who trafficked in sexist stereotypes were put in charge of an alleged romantic comedy which was really just another delusion that ugly men can land hot women -- what bar are Traugott and Lowell getting drunk in?

The sexism was on display from the start.

Chubby Jake McDorman was walking down the street -- and sweating from the task -- as he looked at the women around him deciding who he'd nail.


All of them.

And viewers can be forgiven for initially laughing at that as they mistook this for the joke: that sweaty chubs could lure even one of those women into bed.

Meanwhile, Analeigh's character Dana was walking along obsessing over purses.

Because, in the world According to Jim, women are never attracted to men or thinking about sex.  And in the world According to Jim, men only think about sex.

Some wrongly felt the show was trafficking in Women Are From Venus, Men Are From Mars.


It was Men Are Jim Belushi, Girls Are Bimbos.

Girls, not women.

Despite the best efforts of the three actresses, they were playing girls.  They couldn't overcome that built-in device of the script.

And girls are such little bimbos that they can't handle this modern technology like this new thing they're calling the internet.  Stumbling on the net, Analeigh's Dana wrongly posts a man's name (McDorman's character) to her Facebook leading everyone to believe they're a couple.

Manhattan Love Story apparently takes place in the same world where Mattel's Barbie says, "Math is hard."

The show took six actors inexperienced in the romantic comedy genre and refused to put them before a studio audience.

It may not have saved the show but the silence from a studio audience would have given ABC a heads up that Manhattan Love Story was a dud.

In a way, we're sad the show's become the first to get the axe this fall.

While each episode failed to provide laughs, the publicity material the network kept putting out was unintentionally hilarious.  Our personal favorite was a bio sketch of Jake McDorman which insisted that the actor left the Boy Scouts to pursue acting.  We weren't aware that the Boy Scouts, like a monastery, placed such demands on young males or stood in their way of becoming bad actors.  We now picture the Boy Scouts as Lori Singer's father in the original Footloose, bound and determined to snuff out any and all fun.

If that is indeed who and what they are, they can take pride in the fact that McDorman, even post-Boy Scouts, continues to carry out that mission as one viewing of any episode of Manhattan Love Story will make clear.

 lost viewers each week
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