Stars: David Hornsby, Kevin Dillon, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Nancy Lenehan, Dave Foley, Rhys Darby, Abigail Spencer
Writer: David Hornsby, series created by David Hornsby
Director: Pamela Fryman
Network: CBS, Thursdays @ 8:30 PM
Original Telecast: September 29, 2011
Unless the word “gentleman” in recent years has come to mean “man who is hopelessly out of touch with contemporary behavior, to the point of seeming like he may be from another planet,” the title of HOW TO BE A GENTLEMAN is off the mark. Furthermore, it’s not so much about the “gentleman” in question teaching his manners to anyone, but rather him absorbing (reluctantly) life lessons from a boorish gym owner who tormented him in high school. HOW TO BE A LOUT would perhaps be a more accurate title.
In any case, series creator and pilot writer David Hornsby stars as the uptight, sheltered Alan, an etiquette columnist who is appalled when his boss tells him he needs to make big changes in order to appeal to younger male readers. Through a series of events, Alan winds up at a gym run by Bert (Kevin Dillon), who made Alan’s high school life miserable and still likes to punch him in the arm. Bert decides Alan needs to be taught how to man up (a recurring theme in this fall’s sitcoms) and Alan thinks Bert may be exactly the right kind of fodder for his altered column. A beautiful friendship – okay, a strained association – is born.
HOW TO BE A GENTLEMAN seems to be seeking to replicate the vibe of THE ODD COUPLE, but no one would ever have mistaken Felix Unger’s persnickety behavior for that of a true gentleman, nor for that matter would anyone equate Oscar Madison’s slovenly nature with that of an actual bully. In THE ODD COUPLE, the leads were evenly matched – Felix might not be as rough as Oscar, but he was perfectly capable of holding his own and then some when it came to arguments. In HOW TO BE A GENTLEMAN, poor Alan seems doomed to be cowed by Bert. This wouldn’t be such a problem if the jokes about both characters didn’t feel so dated.
The most humorous aspect of the show deals with Alan’s super-assertive sister Janet, played by the very good Mary Lynn Rajskub, and her marriage to the extraordinarily accommodating and eccentric New Zealander played with superb timing by Rhys Darby. If the show focuses on these two more, it stands a chance of becoming a lot weirder and somewhat better.
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Article: TV Review – HOW TO BE A GENTLEMAN – Season 1 premiere