Where would sitcoms be without the fussy guy? The new sitcom “How To Be a Gentleman” (7:30 p.m., CBS) becomes the latest series — stretching back from “The Odd Couple” to “Frasier” to “The Big Bang Theory” — to center on the terminal perfectionist.
Andrew Carlson (David Hornsby) is a refined writer whose magazine column gives the show its title. He’s dapper but lonely, a debonair man adrift in a world that caters to slobs. Sadly, while Niles had his brother, Frasier Crane, with whom to share witty asides about merlot and Monet, Andrew finds few sympathetic ears. Things get worse after the magazine is bought out and Andrew’s insecure editor, Jerry (Dave Foley, “NewsRadio”), demands he dumb down his column to appeal to an audience too lazy to read.
Andrew finds salvation in Bert (Kevin Dillon), a lummox of a personal trainer who agrees to mentor our fastidious hero in the ways of guydom and to help him “man up” enough to keep his job in a coarser media environment.
One can’t help thinking that this plot idea is a cry for help from the show’s writing staff, folks eager to keep their paychecks but depressed about appealing to an audience raised on vulgar fare like “Two and a Half Men.”
The writers aren’t the only ones looking for a steady gig. In addition to Foley and Dillon (“Entourage”), “Gentleman” features Mary Lynn Rajskub (“24”). Hornsby more than holds his own with this impressive cast, but everybody struggles with the weak material. In one scene, uncouth Bert mistakes the word “friendship” for “fried nips.” That’s about as clever as “Gentleman” gets. But CBS knows its audience and knows what works. It’s probably considered unmanly to notice or complain.
• “The Coffee Addiction” (8 p.m., CNBC) discusses America’s love affair with the popular perk-me-up. According to this documentary, Americans consume more than 400 million cups a day. “Addiction” looks at the $70 billion trade in coffee beans, from the Peruvian coffee fields to the boardrooms of Starbucks, a marketing phenomenon that has made caffeine consumption a declaration of status, if not a way of life.
Tonight’s other highlights
• Two hours of tryouts on “The X Factor” (7 p.m., Fox).
• A floating scribe goes missing midvoyage on “Charlie’s Angels” (7 p.m., ABC).
• Data point to a subject who has already died on “Person of Interest” (8 p.m., CBS).
• Robert sets a very high sales goal on “The Office” (8 p.m., NBC).
• Reinstated, Jane helps investigate the death of a personal trainer on “The Mentalist” (9 p.m., CBS).
• A murdered mother gets Jane’s attention on “Prime Suspect” (9 p.m., NBC).
• Pete’s life hangs in the balance on the season premiere of “Private Practice” (9 p.m., ABC).
• Frank’s child pageant on “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” (9 p.m., FX).
• Deena has a sudden scare on “Jersey Shore” (9 p.m., MTV).