Things I Hope to See While Watching Man with a Plan: Musings from a Taping

So on August 5th, I saw a taping of Man with a Plan. They were doing reshoots of the show after Jenna Fischer, who had played Matt LeBlanc’s wife, left. She was replaced by Liza Snyder who will now be playing the role of Andi who goes back to work and Adam is now tasked with the full-time job of taking care of the kids. This episode was directed by the legendary Jim Burrows and as a Friends fan, I got a kick out of seeing Matt LeBlanc and Jim Burrows work together. As any fanatic would know, Jim Burrows directed many of the early episodes of Friends so watching a professional friendship that has lasted over twenty years in action, was pretty remarkable. The love between the two men was even more evident during the final curtain call when they hugged for a long time and it almost seemed for a moment there, Matt LeBlanc didn’t want to let go of him.

Judging a pilot is always difficult but here are some of my hopes and dreams for the future of Man with a Plan:

More of Matt LeBlanc’s good natured side and his ability to make fun of himself

When the warm up guy played the theme to Friends, he laughed and gave a thumbs up to the audience. Same reaction when the “how you doin'” soundbite kept playing throughout the evening. When he was in the middle of a scene and James Burrows yelled cut, he jokingly yelled that he was still talking although if you watch any Friends blooper reel, he tends to this a lot so maybe a note to LeBlanc that he needs some new blooper material or I need to watch something else besides Friends outtakes. Anyway, this is a guy who clearly does not take himself that seriously and knows how to have a good time. This was also evident in Episodes where he plays an exaggerated version of himself. So I hope they show his fun side a little more, his ability to just poke fun at himself and not take himself seriously is why so many people are fans of his. He just seems like a pretty chill kinda guy and I hope they show more of that.

Moments between Matt Leblanc, Liza Snyder, and Hala Finley

Hala Finley is the young seven-year-old actress who plays Matt LeBlanc and Liza Snyder’s youngest child, Emme. It was clear that the set was very child-friendly and they let her act like a kid and not like a kid doing an adult job. At the beginning of the taping, she began to cry and Matt LeBlanc took her off to the side to talk with her. Moments later, he was carrying her and he had such a sweetness with her. It was clear that she not only adored him but adored Liza Snyder as well so more moments that show that sweetness would be amazing. It seems like the cast and crew on this set has already become a very real family of sorts.

Please don’t make him a bumbling, dumb dad who has no clue what he’s doing

Tim Allen has that market cornered. I always wonder why sitcoms choose to show fathers as clueless when it’s really both parents who are both trying to figure out what they’re doing. One parent doesn’t know more than the other, they’re both making mistakes. Also, Matt LeBlanc already spent ten years playing dumb, twelve if you count the television show, Joey. We know he can play dumb extraordinarily well….so well it’s almost a little scary….but he’s playing a different character now. So please have him be intelligent and have some knowledge on how to parent. We saw that a little bit in the scene where he turns off the Wi-Fi and tells his children that they have to do their chores before getting the password. That scene was good so, hopefully, they aren’t going to make him a bumbling, clueless dad.  On another note as well, Matt LeBlanc’s character is a contractor. It’s well known that LeBlanc would have been a contractor had it not been for Heinz Ketchup….and also other stuff. So please, please do not have him be bad at his job if we see him doing construction when we know in real life, the opposite is true.

Giving the kids separate, yet distinct personalities and show them interacting more with Liza Snyder and Matt LeBlanc as individuals and not just a team

A pilot is not enough time to really go into each character but the kids seem like fun kids and watching them play around on the set made the taping more fun. Watching Grace Kaufman who plays the eldest, Kate, dance around the set with Hala Finley riding piggyback or watching Matthew McCann, who plays middle child Teddy, jump up and down the stairs two at a time…these are kids that are clearly encouraged to be kids on the set. So I hope those personalities shine through in upcoming episodes. I hope we get to see the differences between them especially since they are all at very different stages of their lives and right now they do seem very similar and  act as one unit. Perhaps down the line, we’ll see more of them as individuals and go deeper into their relationships with Matt LeBlanc and Liza Snyder’s characters.

I’m never quite sure if a pilot is the best way to measure the quality of a show that plans to be around for seven years. Characters are never fully developed yet and there aren’t that many clear directions in terms of storyline. I’m curious which direction it will go and I still plan to give the show a shot when it airs Monday, October 24th at 8:30 on CBS.

 

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