WHAT IT’S ABOUT Pittsburgh contractor Adam Burns (Matt LeBlanc) decides to spend more time at home with the three kids so wife Andi (Liza Snyder) can go back to work after 13 years as a stay-at-home mom. The stay-at-home dad immediately has second thoughts because the kiddies — Kate (Grace Kaufman), Teddy (Matthew McCann) and Emme (Hala Finley) — are more work than he bargained for. (Veteran TV actress Diana Maria Riva stars as bossy kindergarten teacher Mrs. Rodriguez, and Kevin Nealon is Adam’s brother, Don.)
MY SAY Joey, Joey, Joey.
Matt, Matt, Matt.
You’re killing me. You’re killing us. Both of you.
First there was Joey Tribbiani, the almost willfully witless wonderboy of “Friends” and one of the most popular characters in TV history. Then there was Matt LeBlanc of “Episodes” who flipped the Joey facade to reveal a callow and mordantly funny reprobate — who may or may not have been a distant reflection of the real Matt LeBlanc but at least was a more interesting version, and Golden Globe-winning one, too.
Now, Adam Burns. Enough said about him.
Back to square one for Matt, or whatever comes before “square one.”
“Man With a Plan” is hardly a reversal for the family sitcom — a genre marvelously engineered to withstand reversals no matter how base the hackwork or flavorless the “com” — but it sure feels like a reversal for LeBlanc. In fact, “Man With a Plan” is such a generic family sitcom that it’s impossible to determine if there was an original inspiration for this or just a simple calculus — at which CBS excels, coincidentally.
Cable and broadcast networks have pretty much abandoned traditional family sitcoms — or at least their most prehistoric elements — because they’re not particularly appealing to young viewers who watch stuff on the internet days or even weeks later. But CBS’ audience (average age 59) still tends to watch the old-fashioned way, or when a show actually airs. Moreover, “Man” will follow — or in network-speak “flow out of” — the newly minted hit “Kevin Can Wait.” The transition will be so seamless that viewers may not even be able to tell they’re watching a different show. That’s part of the calculus, too.
So don’t be surprised if this isn’t a modest hit and don’t fight the urge to fondly recall the LeBlanc glory days while watching (if you do, even after this warning). He’s still got the old charm — just not much of a showcase for it.
BOTTOM LINE A wan, weary network-sitcom-by-committee — oh, and Matt LeBlanc, too.