Is it possible to stand your ground when your family always disagrees with you? That’s part of the premise behind ABC’s “Last Man Standing,” which followed a family man struggling to keep his sanity in check. Unfortunately, the results didn’t always deliver a lot of genuine laughs.
“Last Man Standing” followed Mike Baxter (Tim Allen) as he tried to remain in control of his family when he truly hasn’t been in years. His wife Vanessa (Nancy Travis) ended up getting a major job promotion that kept her away from home more often. Mike was tasked with keeping the house in order while she was at work. Sadly, he was in over his head with his three very different daughters. The Baxter’s oldest daughter Kristin (Amanda Fuller) who worked as a waitress to support her son Boyd (Flynn Morrison), but her relaxed parenting style often left her at odds with her father. Mike also had to contend with his very different younger daughters Mandy (Molly Ephraim) and Eve (Kaitlyn Dever) as well. He had more in common with tomboy Eve than the boy crazy Mandy, but he still had problems with both of them equally. Can Mike find guidance from his longtime friend Ed (Hector Elizondo) before it’s too late?
Unfortunately, the answer to that question was a resounding no, because Allen’s Mike was destined to make the same mistakes every week. He tried to maintain control when it was never his to begin with. His family ruled his household without him even knowing it, until it was too late to fix things. The show’s main flaw was that it didn’t truly have an identity of its own, which was a shame because the cast had the potential to deliver some strong laughs. Each episode started off promising, but the ending was always the same with viewers feeling disappointed by the outcome. The jokes were occasionally worth a chuckle or two, but they mostly pushed too hard to draw laughs. The season two premiere focused heavily on the recent election, which featured Mike’s conservative views and how his family disagreed with him. The plot seemed more like an extended political commercial than a sitcom episode. Let’s hope that future episode will try to focus more on Mike’s family and not just his strictly conservative views.
In terms of breakout performances, Allen and Travis had a genuine chemistry that sometimes got lost in the shuffle of the weekly plots. They helped to ground each other whenever things got too crazy. Allen’s portrayal of Mike was a cross between his “Home Improvement” character and Archie Bunker. Travis, on the other hand, took a quieter approach as the straight woman who could easily render Allen’s Mike speechless without even trying. Hopefully, Travis will get the opportunity to have a storyline of her own that will allow viewers to see what Vanessa’s life was like outside of the Baxter house. Viewers got a glimpse of Vanessa’s work life in a recent episode, but it wasn’t enough to truly standout. Elizondo delivered some promising laughs when his character clashed with his ex-wife and considered an ill-advised reunion with her that started to spell trouble for everyone involved. Maybe, the show should focus on Ed’s complicated personal life or let Mike see him outside of the house to shake things up a bit. Every little bit will help to guarantee a possible third season, but it’s too early to tell if anything will come to pass just yet.
“Last Man Standing” premiered on November 2nd and airs Fridays at 8:00 PM on ABC.
Verdict: A show that needs some work in order to make it to a third season.
TV Score: 1 out of 5 stars
1 Star (Mediocre)
2 Stars (Averagely Entertaining)
3 Stars (Decent Enough to Pass Muster)
4 Stars (Near Perfect)
5 Stars (Gold Standard)