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‘Man Up’ stands out on ABC



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‘man up’ ★★1/2

7:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesdays on WLS-Channel 7

Updated: November 19, 2011 8:36AM

Will’s grandfather fought in World War II. His dad did battle in Vietnam.

But Will’s combat action is confined to his couch, where he plays heated “Call of Duty” games with his two best friends in ABC’s new sitcom “Man Up!”

Will (Mather Zickel), a married father and insurance salesman, also likes pomegranate body wash and prefers his coffee with non-dairy hazelnut creamer.

All of the above has left Will feeling a bit emasculated — a thread that runs through several of ABC’s new sitcoms. That list includes Tim Allen’s train wreck “Last Man Standing,” which happens to lead into “Man Up!” for a full hour of male angst on Tuesday nights. On the on-deck circle is the network’s midseason replacement “Work It,” featuring a couple of unemployed dudes dressing up as women to get jobs as pharmaceutical reps.

All of these shows are about guys trying to find their way in an increasingly estrogen-fueled world, and we know how much men hate to ask for directions. The best of the bunch — and the bunch isn’t exactly strong — is “Man Up!” written and produced by Christopher Moynihan (“100 Questions”).

Moynihan also co-stars as Craig, the most sensitive of the trio of friends. In the pilot, Craig is still hung up on his college ex, which creates a situation where the three buddies need to — you guessed it — man up.

On the other end of the spectrum is the overweight, overly hirsute Kenny (Dan Fogler). His Jack Black antics spark some genuinely funny moments, like when he takes on superman Henry Simmons (playing a version of the Old Spice Guy) in a game of shirts-and-skins basketball.

“Man Up!” has potential, especially if it stops belaboring its premise with Will constantly harping about his masculinity feeling threatened. A little of that goes a long way, just like pomegranate body wash.

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