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Posted at 01:28 PM ET, 10/12/2011

Tim Allen’s ‘Last Man Standing’: Critics hate it. Viewers love it.


Tim Allen stars in “Last Man Standing.” (Randy Holmes - ABC)

Guess what is shaping up as the biggest hit of the new TV season?

Tim Allen’s totally retro “manly man emasculated” sitcom, “Last Man Standing.”

TV critics loathed it – but 13 million viewers liked it. That’s TV’s biggest 8 p.m. comedy debut in more than 7 years.

And the new 8 o’clock comedy opened on its own -- no watch-us-kill-Charlie-Sheen-and-put-his-ashes-in-a-Dust-Buster lead-in audience of 30 million here!

Sure, you argue, that’s because people love Tim Allen but once they saw the show —

Nope! The half-hour sitcom’s one-hour premiere copped more viewers in its second half than its first. That generally means people liked what they saw.

All across America, we’re picturing millions of the show’s targeted put-upon-male demographic watching the premiere Tuesday night and, when their wives/girlfriends asked, “What ARE you laughing at?” they took a look too. Because ‘Last Man” handily won its timeslot among 18-34 year old women.

Yes, we know, CBS’s much ballyhooed new sitcom “2 Broke Girls,” from “Sex and the City’s” Michael Patrick King, attracted a bigger crowd of about 19 million to its unveiling — this season’s biggest new-series premiere to date.

But “Broke Girls” did so with the enormous help of a whopping “Two and a Half Men” lead-in audience of 30 million.

Likewise, the only other new series to attract a bigger audience in its kick-off — CBS drama “Unforgettable” — attracted only a slightly larger 14 million people, with a 17-million-viewer hand from its “NCIS:LA” lead-in.

We’ll have to wait until the final Live + Same Day (via DVR) viewing stats come in, this afternoon, to know whether Tim Allen stood tall against the opening of CBS’s new JJ Abrams drama. “Person of Interest” attracted 13.3 million people in its first flight — in CBS’s best drama-series timeslot, Thursday night at 9, with a sizeable “Big Bang Theory” lead-in.

We could go on and on about how the new series most hated by TV critics trounced the openings of all those shows TV industry navel gazers said would be The Next Big Thing: “Terra Nova” (9.2 million viewers), “X Factor” (12.5 million), “Whitney” (7 million), blah, blah, blah.

Instead, we’ll finish with:

* In its review of “Last Man Standing” the Los Angeles Times said: “[T]his is a case of people who can make situation comedies with their eyes closed making one with their eyes closed.”

* Newsday said: “‘Last Man Standing’ reeks of flop sweat. ABC obviously reasoned the world was ready for a ‘Home Improvement’ revival. ABC is wrong.”

And, because it’s only fair,

* The Washington Post said: “It’s not surprising that Allen and ABC think this unga-unga shtick still has market potential, but I once again refer you to the eerie silence from ‘Last Man Standing’s’ studio audience. It speaks volumes.”

By  |  01:28 PM ET, 10/12/2011

 
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