David Hornsby (Rickety Cricket from It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia) has adapted a non-fiction novel that outlines, well, exactly how to be a gentleman in an easy to read contemporary guide to common courtesy. CBS’ How to Be a Gentleman centers on Hornsby as Andrew Carlson, an uptight magazine columnist and his friendship with Kevin Dillon’s (Entourage) Bert Lansing. Bert’s a man’s man who is an Iraq War veteran turned personal trainer. Their differences provide comical tension, but the question is whether or not their relationship will be able to provide enough comedy to back an entire sitcom.
Many have already noted that HTBAG is a rehashed and revamped version of The Odd Couple thanks to preview clips of the show. In all honesty, it is and Hornsby knows it. Andrew is a proper socialite with no friends and resorts to having his birthday dinner with his sister and her husband at his mother’s house. When he receives a gift certificate to a gym for a personal trainer he realizes that the trainer is Bert, an old bully from high school. Their instant personality clash causes Andrew to leave.
Plot’s over? You would think so, but fortunately the magazine Andrew works for is under new ownership and wants to gain a young and hip audience. He has to change the angle of his column, but he doesn’t know anybody that fits the target audience until he realizes Bert is exactly who the type of person the magazine wants to pull in. They meet at a strip club of all places on a Wednesday at 10 in the morning. Bert uses Andrew’s “a gentleman never turns down a drink” logic to get two shots into him, causing Andrew to get instantly drunk. There were splashes of well written dialogue in the scene, but nothing overtly funny. In the end Bert convinces Andrew that they need to work together. He tells Andrew, “You know everything about being a gentleman, but nothing about being a man.”
And so their odd relationship begins. Hornsby’s Andrew is whiney and annoying while Dillon’s Bert could be a model for Ed Hardy. Even though the show is supposed to teach us how to be a gentleman, the first episode focuses more on teaching us how to be a macho man.
Later we meet some annoying characters that fill time until we bump into Andrew’s sister and her neurotic British husband again. Their plotline breaks up the main plot, but every scene they’re in features Andrew; it never really giving us a break from him. Even though minor characters should remain secondary players, I’d eventually like to see new plot lines develop, but for now the focus should remain on Andrew and Bert’s relationship.
The episode is augmented with Andrew’s voiceover explaining what a gentleman should do, and at first it seems uncomfortable and forced, but as the episode progresses it fits with the flow more and more. In the end it turns out his voiceover is what he has written for his column, revealing the formula that HTBAG will follow.
The pilot was a strong opening for the Hornsby’s sitcom. It’s capitalizing on the popularity of Barney from How I Met Your Mother’s “Bro Code”, but isn’t quite up to par with the humor of the other CBS comedy. While it’s not exactly a rip off, the parallels are there. So is the potential. Returning to HTBAG next week would definitely be worth it.