How to Be a Gentleman Is A Proper Mess

The first two questions people typically ask when they find out about a new comedy are "Who's in it?" and "What's it about?" CBS' newest multi-camera laugh-track showcase, How to Be a Gentleman, answers those questions with responses that deserve both applause and boos. The cast is fantastic: David Hornsby (It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia), David Foley (NewsRadio), Mary Lynn Rajskub (Mr. Show), and Rhys Darby (Flight of the Conchords). The premise is not: A prudish author teams up with his meatball friend to learn how to be a man. It's one of those concepts that was really hot in the 1960s, yet somehow manages to resurface every once in a while. Or in the case of this season, in every third new comedy; wussy men are, like, totally in, you guys.

Based on last night's pilot, How to Be a Gentleman is one of the worst new comedies of the fall season. That's saying a lot, considering the crop includes Tim Allen's ridiculously outdated Last Man Standing and Whitney Cummings' stale and muzzled Whitney. My biggest complaint is that How to Be a Gentleman simply isn't funny; when Hornsby's character Andrew explained, via voice-over, that "a true gentleman is never at a loss for words when he hears bad news," even my cats knew the next gag would be Andrew stammering nonsense. When Andrew promised that he'd just have one shot of booze, I prayed that the show wouldn't immediately cut to him trashed. But it did. And it hurt. And all that hurt added up to one painful viewing experience.

It's a shame, too, because I've been dying to see Rhys Darby in something—anything—new. Ever since he burst onto the scene as the idiotic manager in Flight of the Conchords, he's been ripe for a breakthrough. How to Be a Gentleman will not be that breakthrough, though Darby did provide the pilot's highlight by pretending to be Superman in the background of a video chat. (Side note: Video chat sequences, along with prissy men and the word "vagina," seem to be a big trend in television this year.) I haven't even mentioned Kevin Dillon as the "dude" yet, because I'm already trying to forget him. When oh when will science grant us the ability to scrub our brains of unfortunate television?

How to Be a Gentleman is off to a horrible start with no signs of a promising future ahead. The first episode had a 3.6 rating on TV.com as of press time, one of the lowest I've seen, so I don't think I'm alone in believing the show won't survive long. I never thought I'd say this, but I'm looking forward to Rules of Engagement taking over its time slot.


Single, solitary note:
– It was weird to see David Foley in the boss chair when Andrew showed up to meet with him. It's the exact same thing NewsRadio used to do, except Foley was the employee. Now he's playing essentially the same character as Stephen Root's Jimmy James. It's almost an identical set, too.


What'd you think of the premiere? Do you think How to Be a Gent's talented cast has any chance of turning the show around?


Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

Comments (17)
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I hated it, maybe I'll watch ep 2 before I totally write it off
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"Dated and Predictable?" Not sure what you mean, 2 1/2 Men uses the same Odd couple concept and that's the biggest hit on TV years and it even seems to be surviving the loss of its lead.



As far as the Acting, what you said doesn't make any sense either, these are all great actors of incredible pedigree. have you not seen Dave Foley from Kids in the Hall, News Radio??? Rhys Darby from Flight of the Concords, Hornsby in Always Sunny??? This is an amazing cast. Rarely do you come across a cast like this in TV. i was thrilled to see that America would get a chance to be exposed to Rhys Darby, the guy is hilarious.



It is a pilot and it takes time to figure out the characters and with all these great comedic leads, it must be hard to find stories to get them all involved, but this is a hilarious show of great promise, i hope people give it a shot.
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I did say I'll give the second episode a chance in the hopes that the cast have some influence in the writers room. I know that they are good actors (mostly) but that doesn't necessarily mean that the show is good, or that those actors are doing a good job. Mary Lynn Rajskub was hardly in it, I've never seen Rhys Darby before and maybe he was good in previous shows but I didn't find him funny in this, Kevin Dillon was a walking cliche, Dave Foley sat at a desk and delivered a couple of lines - his biggest contribution being his change of hair colour and the main lead, David Hornsby, was boring and not particularly likeable. It's OK to get a good cast together but you need to do more with them than stand/sit them in front of the camera and ask them to read lines. For the acting to be good they need to act. I also, in part, defended their poor acting by blaming the poorly writen dialogue and ridiculous plot, which could improve by allowing Rajskub, Darby and Foley more time in the writers room. The biggest problem this show has though is the two main leads. The best actors/comedians in this show are the support. To get the three of them together on a show, then ask them to play second fiddle to Hornsby & Dillon and to be a part of another male-cliche "comedy" when they could easily be a part of something much more intelligent, is an insult to their abilities. For the life of me, I don't know why they even signed on in the first place.
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Didn't laugh once. I thought it was rubbish. Dated and predictable consept, the voiceover was annoying and unnecessary, the acting was poor, which is kind of understandable given the dialogue and plot and the whole thing just felt rushed and half-hearted. I'll probably give the second episode a chance, as I do with most shows (except Whitney) in the hopes that the good (not great, especially when you remember Kevin Dillon is in there) cast can have some influence in the writers room. But I don't hold out any hopes. After the next episode I suspect this will be the eighth new show I've "cancelled".
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Its not possible to judge a show in a pilot. You remember the pilot of The Big Bang Theory? Horrible, in the end they came up with some changes and its pretty good right now.

I think its show have room for improvement, im gonna watch some more episode before made a final decision, but isnt so bad as people say, i found some parts funny.
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I agree with the people who left comments here. the critic is flat out wrong. Why? its just a pilot. if your premise is there is so much comedic gold in this cast, then wouldn't you expect that it would take at least more than one episode to find the volumes for each character? you think thats magically going to happen in a pilot?



what the critic also doesn't seem to wrap his head around is that there is so much information that has to be laid out in a pilot for story. if your complaint is there aren't a lot of jokes? well guess what? you have to explain the premise of a show first to get to a lot of jokes.



as far as the critic's cliched and tired rant about the odd couple being dated. well have you googled odd couple? the play is still being run all across the country in small towns and in cosmpolitan cities as well. why? because it's a timeless premise and it's relatable and comedically it works.



if you want to further say that it's not contemporarily justifiable, look at 2 1/2 men, that is for better or worse the biggest hit of the decade and even with the fall of it's primary star it Still grows.



I think the critic didn't do his homework and just took aim at an easy target, firing off cliches that he hypocritically launches at the show.



again, your premise is a total contradiction, how can you argue that there is so much talent and then call it a mess? it takes time to find what works. there are so many great mouths to feed. it takes time.



if you were a truly capable and aware critic, you would understand this and try to support the show and all the talented actors and see where they go in future episodes before you villified it in tolday's ADD, short attention span, twitter mentality.



hopefully America has more sense than this critic offers more time for this show to truly serve all the wonderful actors in this show.



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I guess I'm just easy when it comes to comedy, cause I really liked this. Why does it have to be Louie, Community, and Sunny OR 2 1/2 Men, 2 Broke Girls, and this? I choose all of the above, and laugh heartily.
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After reading so much bad reviews, I was expecting a really really really bad show. Well, I was kind of surprised. Even though the premise is pretty simplistic and Dillon's dude Bert is one dimensional and irritating, they managed to make create a realist relationship between the two main character. The dead-arm thing was just horrible. The supporting cast (and I mean Darby and not only on the superman thing) was pretty funny. The scenes with the manager were quite funny as well. The laugh track doesn't help to sell the bad jokes. I'll try few more eps of this.
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Thought it was poor, nothing original or even funny, new comedies do take time to grow but this is dead in the water. Probably the worst of the new shows i have seen with possibly the exception of Up all night. To be honest I love Rules of Engagement which is a good solid performer and deserves to be on primetime. Hopefully it will now get its chance!
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Rules is planned to return 10/8, but is now on Saturdays.
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Why is it that Dave Foley has taken this long to finally land in another primetime sitcom? He's great, but when he's finally able to come back to a permanent role in a primetime show it's a show like this? Someone please for the love of God get this man on a good show that shows off his talents the way NewsRadio did.
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Two BROKE Girls is comedic genius compared to this garbage - Worst show I've seen next to Up All Night (Can't stand Will Arnett and I do not have a kid), Free Agents, and Whitney (Aside Whitney and the boyfriend, it's the rest of the cast that killed it).
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Not bad for laughs, but definitely room for improvement. I'll keep watching, I like the cast and I think this show has potential.
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I thought it was ok, it does have room for improvement, I say, give it time!

Its definitely not the worst show out there! new girl, 2 poor girls, Whitney, the list goes on for worse shows!

Let the writers tweek and do some footwork, who knows!
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I think I'm the only person who likes the show. Maybe the cast just has me mesmerized but I'll keep watching til CBS cancels it.
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I agree on the basics: I love the cast, hate the show.
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Woo! Go How to Be a Gentlemen! I'm rooting for you (To screw over the 8 staff members who picked this show for their dead pool.) - Last time I use this joke, I swear.
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