Warning: Spoilers in this review!
If you were lucky enough to pay attention, Fox has released the season 7 premiere of Last Man Standing early on Twitter. The series picks up in real time, a little more than a year and a half of the season 6 finale. The episode pokes fun of ABC canceling the series and a whole subplot involves the difference of Mandy’s (Molly McCook) appearance.
If you’ve been living under a rock the past few months, Fox revived Last Man Standing for a seventh season a little after Roseanne debuted to huge ratings for ABC. Fox wanted their own conservative sitcom, so bringing back a property they already owned seemed like a no-brainer. However, Roseanne was then canceled, and then brought back without its leading star. It’ll be interesting to see how that affects Last Man Standing’s ratings this Friday.
The episode “Welcome Baxter” involves Eve (Kaitlyn Dever, now in a recurring role) coming home from the Air Force Academy to a fractured family. The Baxter clan has been living a year under Trump’s leadership, and it has driven Ryan (Jordan Masterson) to the decision to move his family to Canada. This drastically upsets Boyd (now played by Jet Jurgensmeyer), who runs away to avoid leaving.
While the episode has a decent amount of funny jabs at ABC, the episode really does feel like a new pilot episode. McCook tries hard to encapsulate Molly Ephraim’s Mandy, but doesn’t fully seem believable as the dim-witted middle daughter. The biggest difference is that Mandy was once a brunette and fairly short, and has resurfaced a good few inches taller and blonde. It’ll be interesting to see how Mandy 2.0 plays out throughout the rest of the season.
As for Boyd, this is the second recasting we’ve seen for the Baxter grandson. Jurgensmeyer does a great job finally breaking out the Boyd character, as he was never given too much to do other than recite lots of exposition the past few seasons. From the sounds of the recent press releases, it sounds like Boyd will start becoming more Baxter and less Vogelson as he begins to hit puberty.
For fans of the Last Man Standing 1.0, “Welcome Baxter” provides a decent re-entry for a show that has laid dormant for over a year. However, with Dever slated to appear in only two episodes for this upcoming season so far, it’ll be interesting to see how the dynamic changes with the breakout Baxter no longer in the foray.
Final Grade: 6.5/10