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On The Tube

Oct 13 , 2011
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By Dean Robbins

‘Man Up’ gets modern dudes just right

I usually wince when a network sitcom panders to the 18-to-49 male demographic (see this year’s “Last Man Standing,” last year’s “Traffic Lights”). But the new “Man Up” (Tuesday, 7:30 p.m., ABC) hits this demographic where it hurts. It’s a brilliant satire of male pretension and male pride, so painfully on target that it might drive away the very viewers it seeks to attract.

“Man Up” joins fellow one-camera, no-laugh-track productions “New Girl,” “Up All Night” and “Suburgatory” at the top of this season’s sitcom class. It’s about three friends (Mather Zickel, Christopher Moynihan, Dan Fogler) obsessed with manhood. While their ancestors fought in World War II and Vietnam, these dudes battle each other in videogames, armed with controllers and headsets. They would never cuss around the kids, using “fluffin’” as a substitute for more salty language.

All three actors find the sweet spot between reality and absurdity. Special props go to Fogler — a short, bearded combination of Jack Black and Yosemite Sam, with a voice that rises into the screechy Sam Kinison register when he gets hysterical.

“Man Up” is a fluffin’ masterpiece.

‘Whitney’

Thursday, 8:30 p.m. (NBC)

A kind of network series that has become so common that it might have to be declared a genre: the square sitcom that tries to fake hipness with a steady stream of sex jokes. The new “Whitney” is a classic example, as romantic pair Whitney (Whitney Cummings) and Alex (Chris D’Elia) slay the laugh track with smutty, witless punchlines. “Mark went home with the pregnant girl. He wanted to know if it counted as a threesome!”

Maybe the writers are so obsessed with sex because they’ve never had any. Here’s hoping they do soon so they can figure out what’s actually funny about it. CV



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