[06/12/10 - 10:25 PM]
The Futon's First Look: "Man of Your Dreams, The" (NBC)
By Brian Ford Sullivan (TFC)

Please note: As a courtesy, please do not reproduce these comments to newsgroups, forums or other online places. Links only please.

Welcome once again to our annual "first look" at the broadcast networks' offerings for the 2010-2011 season. Each day we'll walk you through one of the new series set to premiere next season (or one that didn't make the cut) and go over our initial impressions after viewing the pilot. Keep in mind that a lot can change from what's being screened right now - recasting, reshooting, etc. - but we still want to give you a heads up on what you should (and shouldn't) keep on your radar in the coming months. So enough of our rambling, on with the show!

[IMPORTANT NOTE: The following is based on the original sales presentation which was screened to us privately or supplied by a third party NOT an informational, not-for-review screener provided by the network in question.]

(written by Jay Lacopo; directed by Jason Ensler; TRT: 24:55)

The network's description: "Larry Ackerman is Chicago's sexiest bartender and an expert in the art of seduction (thanks to several years of on-the-job training). He's the reason "The Rules" was written. When it comes to his own relationships, he lives for the chase and the conquest. But when it comes to helping out other people's relationships, he's focused on love. Persuaded by his sister's Tuesday night supper club, Larry reveals the secrets of men to help the women land Mr. Right. Of course, Larry's advice often backfires or works too well and he constantly finds himself cleaning up the mess. Larry's newfound purpose in life helps him to truly understand the opposite sex and gives him hope that he might one day meet someone capable of ending his womanizing ways."

What did they leave out? Conan O'Brien was among the show's executive producers.

The plot in a nutshell: Unabashed womanizer/bartender Larry (Michael Trucco) has been busted once again, this time by his live-in girlfriend Catherine (Heather Stephens). Left with no place else to go, he moves in with his estranged sister Liza (Constance Zimmer) and her sardonic daughter (Vanessa Marano). There he's quickly drawn into Liza's Tuesday night supper club, where her collection of fellow divorcees - nervous pharmacist Violet (Justina Machado), gold-digging knockout Melinda (Christina Chang) and obsessive-compulsive Sally (Rebecca McFarland) - get to together to complain about their lackluster love lives.

Much to Liza's chagrin the gals start to solicit advice from Larry about how to land themselves a man. And, after his initial suggestions bear fruit, Larry finds himself their inadvertent love coach - whether it's holding impromptu seminars on how men think in Liza's living room or walking them through how to behave on a first date. But as Larry ingratiates himself into the girls' lives, Liza's objections become even louder: he's playing with fire and one of them is going to get hurt. And sure enough, despite his advice working perfectly for Violet on her first date, she takes it too far and ends up going to the county clerk's office to get married to her new beau.

Even worse, Melinda finds herself under the spell of Larry's co-worker/womanizing protege Mitchell (Ronreaco Lee, who presents himself as a descendant of George Washington Carver... and the soon-to-be inheritor of his estate). You see since he started hanging out with Liza and her friends, Larry's begun to realize woman are actually people and don't deserve to be the victims of his dating tricks. And so he defuses both situations and comes around to the fact he'll have to get to know all of them as human beings before dishing out silly advice that could have far-reaching consequences. Now if Liza will just admit her brother's silliness actually works.

What works: In theory I guess something along the lines of "Hitch: The TV Series" could work as a TV show...

What doesn't: ...but wow that is not the case here. Painfully stilted and awkward, "Dreams" just seems to limp its way through what feels like a very long 24 minutes and change of decidedly laugh-free material. There's really no "jokes" to speak of as the script either takes limp pot shots (Liza: "My brother talks because he can't not talk. If his voice were a solid mass he would name it and try to have sex with it.") or random swings (Mitchell: "[Larry] taught me everything I know, he's like Yoda but taller." Random girl: "And with abs."), neither of which ever connect. They're facets not aided by its strangely muted laugh track, which seems to be equally stifled by the show's stone-faced proceedings.

All of the above not surprisingly exposes the general wonkiness of the central concept: perpetual bachelor who knows all explains guys to hapless women (one even knits, the horror!). Even worse, the show doesn't even bother to hide its "Hitch"-esque leanings: Larry's first seminar opens with "basic principles," all of which state of the obvious (don't look crazy, be welcoming, meet those who try halfway) but are received as awe-inspiring revelations by the girls. (You mean I shouldn't gorge myself on peanuts while trying to get a guy's attention? Thanks guy from "Battlestar Galactica!") Again, they're warts that could easily be hidden by charming characters and clever dialogue...

The bottom line: ...both of which you won't find here.

  [june 2010]  


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