Not to speak ill of the half-dead, but “Modern Men” is a prime example of why the WB has struggled to establish an identity in comedy. A nondescript sitcom that’s little more than a three-man version of NBC’s “Four Kings,” there’s nothing here bearing even a glancing resemblance to the net’s better dramas — beginning with the premise, in which the show’s twentysomething guys spend every waking moment trying to get laid. The twist, such as it is, involves the trio retaining Jane Seymour as their “life coach.” Some remedial instruction in sitcom construction might have helped, too.
When we meet these unlikely best buddies, Tim (Josh Braaten) is being dumped by his girlfriend; Doug (Eric Lively) is still pining for his ex-wife; and Kyle (Max Greenfield) is waltzing through a series of one-night stands. It’s Tim, the triumvirate’s one semi-relatable character, who gloms onto the life-coach idea after a nudge from his sister (a too-little-used Marla Sokoloff of “The Practice”), concluding, “Unless we want to be old and alone, we need to evolve.”
There’s ample room for life guide Victoria (Seymour) to impart snippets of advice — like being honest with women — that immediately yield significant dividends to the manly knuckle-draggers. That’s because the women are little more than oversexed sitcom props — which is odd, really, considering the female skew of the WB audience.
Representing a first foray into half-hour comedy by Jerry Bruckheimer, “Modern Men” actually leaves you hoping the producer will revert to bigscreen form and blow something up.
Braaten possesses a certain easygoing charm, but his buddies are too-familiar cartoons, and the vast majority of setup/joke combinations are painfully obvious. Even Seymour and George Wendt, as Tim’s dad, can’t ground the show in any semblance of reality.
Moreover, the guys literally spend every moment entangled with women, whether it’s testing Victoria’s schemes or analyzing the strategies afterward. Don’t they ever catch a ballgame together or something?
It’s up to Kyle, the ladies’ man, to drive home the underlying message with characteristic subtlety. “I’ve dug my own grave — with my penis,” he says in the second episode.
Well, sure, who hasn’t? But that doesn’t mean anybody should feel obligated to watch.