Take Me to the Pilots '16: CBS' 'Man With a Plan'

Man With a Plan S01E01 Still - Publicity - H 2016
Darren Michaels/CBS

Man With a Plan S01E01 Still - Publicity - H 2016

[I'll remind you at the top of every single one of these: These entries are not reviews. They're gut reactions to not-for-air pilots that could change in big and small ways between now and September or October or midseason. Full reviews will come then. They'll be longer. And more carefully considered. The opinions may even change. Who knows?]

Show: The Man With a Plan (CBS)
The Pitch: "What can we schedule that'll make critics say, 'Kevin Can Wait isn't for me, but at least it's an OK version of a CBS multicam, as opposed to ...'"
Quick Response: Jenna Fischer, who co-starred in the original pilot that was picked up and made available for critics, is being recast and I don't think CBS has announced her replacement, which means there should have been time for a page one rewrite of the pilot, since what we saw was under 20 minutes and there was almost nothing I'd keep. The recasting was a good idea because Matt LeBlanc and Fischer had whatever the opposite of chemistry is. I felt like their characters, supposedly married parents of three kids, hated each other, but only part of that was Fischer not being able to convincingly play a poorly written role. A bigger part was the writing, which is astoundingly regressive even if the show were set in 1955. The pilot is half LeBlanc's character passive aggressively trying to get his wife to stop working so that he doesn't have to be an active parent and half his wife fawning over her husband with obsequious gratitude for his ALLOWING her to go back to work at all. It's excruciating. There's also the very real sense that LeBlanc's character not only hasn't been parenting for 13 years, but has never actually met his children, given how foreign such normal things as daily routines and their ages seem to be to him. The character has one good parenting idea — He leverages a daily Wi-Fi password to get them to do chores — but he also shuts his kids in the pantry to have a conversation with his wife for no reason the writing bothers to defends. Two of the three kids offer neither personality nor comic timing, and part of the main character's obliviousness and disconnect comes from questionably distant performance choices by LeBlanc. The recasting gives CBS the chance to do a complete tear-down and that opportunity should be taken, because reshooting only Fischer's scenes won't help.
Desire to Watch Again: For the reshot pilot? High. I'm genuinely looking forward to seeing what actress they get to be a part of this and if they take this blessed opportunity and fix anything.

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