Matt LeBlanc returns to network television with the comedy “Man With a Plan.” He plays a contractor who starts spending more time with his three kids when his wife, Andi (Liza Snyder), goes back to work. But the children are out of control.
This isn’t the first series for LeBlanc, who, as you know, had a long, successful run on “Friends.” Some of his other projects worked (“Episodes”) while others didn’t (“Joey”). So, LeBlanc needs a gameplan for his latest production to make sure it is a success.
Here are his plans:
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Get back into a style of making the program that gave him his greatest success.
“Episodes” was shot like a feature film and his work on “Top Gear” has been unscripted. “Man With a Plan” will be filmed in front of a studio audience, like “Friends.”
“I like the sort of workweek on a multi-cam. You rehearse all week, and then you shoot in front of an audience, like a play. It’s like being part of an ensemble theater company,” LeBlanc says.
Possible flaw in the plan: His biggest flop, “Joey,” was also shot in front of a studio audience.
Find a format that fits him the best.
When LeBlanc was starring on “Friends,” he was in his late 20s and early 30s. Now, he’s 49. That means he must play a more mature role. When LeBlanc met with the series creators, Jackie and Jeff Filgo, he liked idea of the family show they were pitching.
LeBlanc is also a parent, which made him interested in exploring that kind of character.
Possible flaw in the plan: The image of Joey Tribbiani is still very strong through the constant rerunning of “Friends.”
Bank on most people having not seen “Joey” or at least not remembering it if they did.
LeBlanc was the first member of the “Friends” cast to land a series when the series ended. The decision to take Joey from a member of an ensemble to the lead in the new comedy didn’t work.
The plan for LeBlanc is to move ahead with a project he likes and not dwell on past successes and failures.
“We’ve had a lot of discussions about what this was going to be, and I like the idea of doing it. I like to work,” LeBlanc says. “They can’t all be hits. ‘Joey’ was what ‘Joey’ was. This is a new thing. This is a new character for me. It’s a whole new side of me. And I’m looking forward to it.”
Possible flaw in the plan: The new character is more “Joey” than “Friends.”
Figure out a way to do adult comedy like “Episodes,” but under the strict guidelines of being a network show.
There has been no problem with plots and story lines, but LeBlanc has had to tone down the profanity. Finding a way to swear without really swearing has been the big test.
Possible flaw in the family: Plots for “Man With a Plan” will seem too tame compared to the very mature antics on “Episodes.”
Get an audience to accept him playing a TV dad for the first time.
LeBlanc has connected with the three actors playing his character’s children.
“The kids’ energy is they are just having fun. So, for me, it’s like a constant reminder all of this should be fun all the time. It should be fun. We should have fun with them. It should be fun on set,” LeBlanc says. “And when it’s that type of environment, it lends itself to funny, and there’s an innocence about them. Kids are so brutally honest. It’s actually been really nice spending time around these new little people that I don’t know that well that I’m developing relationships with. They are great.”
Possible flaw in the plan: Audiences may not like the children.
Man With a Plan
- 8:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 24, CBS (Channel 47.1)