"Last Man Standing" moved to Friday nights with older versions of Kristin (Amanda Fuller), Boyd (Flynn Morrison), and Ryan (Jordan Masterson). The recasts are an adjustment and focusing on politics just days before an election does not boost the entertainment value.
Mandy (Molly Ephraim) prepares to vote for the first time, and the Baxter household becomes a hotbed of political debate as Mike (Tim Allen), Ryan, and Kristin try to influence her. Their exhaustive bickering consumes most of the episode. Mike makes bizarre claims that the first lady doesn't believe in sleeves and President Barack Obama was born in Kenya. Kristin argues that Mitt Romney tried to kill the auto industry. Ryan transforms their disagreement into a case of the wealthy versus the working class.
Contrary to the recorded laughter, the exchange is tiresome and horribly unfunny. The misguided political jokes are offensive to Republicans, Democrats, and fans of entertainment. Vanessa (Nancy Travis) offers a bit of comic relief as she works to maintain her secret ballot and avoid arguing. Boyd could have salvaged it all had he mimicked Abigael Evans's viral video and sobbed about "Bronco Bama" and Mitt Romney. Unfortunately, that apt meme did not come soon enough to influence this disappointing episode.
Fantasy football fever
Mike teases the store's staff for obsessively playing fantasy football. His curmudgeonly humor shines and finds an appropriate target as he complains about grown men playing "fairytale" football instead of joining the store's real-life team.
Ed (Hector Elizondo) wants to build a stellar team to end Eve's (Kaitlyn Dever) three-year winning streak. He tries to bully Kyle (Christoph Sanders) into trading Aaron Rodgers by tasking him with a series of dirty jobs around the store. Watching Kyle take a stand makes Mike realize it is wrong to try to force Mandy's vote. Despite Mike's revelation, this episode lacks the usual uplifting ending because the political bickering eclipses everything else.
The new cast
The older Kristin now seems obnoxious instead of independent and strong-willed. Wouldn't this freethinker reason with Mandy rather than joining Mike in bullying her with political rhetoric? She has a quick emotional exchange with Mike when he laments that he is losing his daughters, but it seems hollow instead of poignant.
Boyd is adorable, as always, and making him a few years older allows Mike to introduce him to cherry bombs.
Nick Jonas originally portrayed Ryan as a disinterested playboy. The new Ryan is a hands-on dad who takes Boyd for overnight visits and gives him educational toys. He and Mike should have a uniquely contentious relationship since Mike has strong definitions of masculinity and fatherhood. So far, Ryan is incredibly similar to Kristin.
"Last Man Standing" has the same basic tone, but the cast has to rebuild its rhythm and chemistry to boost the laughs.
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