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Archive for Tuesday, October 18, 2011

‘Man Up!’ falls flat in a hurry

October 18, 2011

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Men used to be men. Some became dudes, and others morphed into the video game-playing quasi-nerds who populate “Man Up!” (7:30 p.m., ABC). Will (Mather Zickel) is the sweet, slightly clueless Dad figure clearly modeled on Phil Dunphy (Ty Burrell) of “Modern Family.” His wife, Theresa (Teri Polo), is also an obvious knockoff of Claire Dunphy (Julie Bowen).

Will’s brother-in-law, Kenny (Dan Fogler), is a combustible hothead of the Jack Black variety. Will and Kenny spend entirely too much time playing violent video games with Craig (Christopher Moynihan), a weepy, emotional type still carrying a torch for the girl who dumped him.

The first episode careens from a botched birthday party for Will’s awkward son to Craig’s attempt to crash the wedding of his ex. It’s around this time that the pilot for this series begins to resemble the pilot for “Happy Endings” in too many ways. And that pilot was terrible for so obviously (and badly) plagiarizing “The Graduate.”

Over the course of the last few years, there has been a parade of sitcoms about the wacky relationships between married couples and their single and/or divorced friends. None has exactly thrived. “Rules of Engagement,” the most popular of the bunch, has survived only by moving from night to night to avoid outright cancellation.

While not as horrible as the crumpled Tim Allen vehicle “Last Man Standing,” ‘‘Man Up!” is at once ridiculously familiar and instantly forgettable. It appears to be part of some corporate plan by ABC to prove that it’s not just a network for female fans of “Desperate Housewives” and “Dancing With the Stars.” Thus far, the plan is clearly not working.

• Spike, a network clearly not aimed at the ladies, presents the sixth annual “Scream Awards 2011” (8 p.m.), celebrating the year in horror, fantasy and science fiction. Look for a special salute to the just-concluded “Harry Potter” film franchise.

• “Billions Behind Bars: Inside America’s Prison Industry” (8 p.m., CNBC) examines America’s growing prison population and the estimated 800,000 people who work in the system, as well as the growing phenomenon of private, for-profit institutions.

Tonight’s other highlights

• It’s way too early in the season to be airing “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” (7 p.m., CMT).

• Competition and elimination On “Dancing With the Stars” (8 p.m., ABC).

• “Frontline” (8 p.m., PBS, check local listings) examines the policy of detaining and deporting illegal immigrants.

• A dead man’s evidence may implicate a dirty cop on “Unforgettable” (9 p.m., CBS).

• Advice from Amber on “Parenthood” (9 p.m., NBC).

• An arson leaves many victims on “Body of Proof” (9 p.m., ABC).

• Part two of “Women, War and Peace” (9 p.m., PBS, check local listings) recalls the efforts of Liberian women to overthrow an oppressive warlord.

• An ultimatum reverberates on “Sons of Anarchy” (9 p.m., FX).

• NBA legend Jerry West discusses his long battle with depression on “Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel” (9 p.m., HBO).

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