Tim Allen returns to the small screen as Mike Baxter, an aging baby boomer, father of three daughters, and a relatively new grandfather . He is married (never divorced – I feel compelled to qualify that) to Vanessa, played by Nancy Travis (3 Men and a Baby), who recently returns to the workplace after years as a stay-at-home mom. Their eldest daughter Kristin is a 22 year old unmarried mother of little Boyd living at home with her sisters, 17 year old Mandy, and 14 year old Eve. The laughs are driven by Allen’s solo frustrated alpha-male surrounded by estrogen-overload. Sometimes it works, sometimes not so much.
I decided to give this new sitcom a shot since I am also a former stay-at-home mom of daughters who recently returned to work, and I loved Tim Allen in Home Improvement. Grandparenthood is still far off in my future, but I am increasingly surrounded by friends who have crossed over into that final frontier. This show had promise. I wanted to like it, I really did. Sadly, the situations and dialogue come off forced, and good ol’ Mom and Dad act like buffoons. Case in point, Vanessa, who is likely in her late 40s gets upset when another woman, clearly in her 60s, refers to her as, “women our age,” which flusters Vanessa and drives her to recapture her youth, if only through fashion. Amid blasting techno-pop in a Forever 21ish boutique, Vanessa admires herself in colorful sweater only to be told by the teenage clerk that she’s wearing shorts. Mike attends Grandparents Day at his grandson’s preschool and instantly clashes with the New Age, ultra-liberal, politically correct director. When Mike/Tim notices a cute child with curly hair, dressed in a tutu then finds out his name is Doug, he blurts out something insulting to both parent and director, and is promptly asked to leave the preschool. He thinks he’s prepared to take care of his grandson himself at his place of business, but after one too many poopy diapers returns to the preschool with his tail firmly between his legs and begs for forgiveness.
Last Man Standing may be able to limp through the season thanks to the strength of its star, Tim Allen, but this otherwise uninspired comedy needs to step up the writing and pull situations from real life if it expects to stroll into another season.