Raising hellions: Family sitcom 'Man With a Plan' returns for a third season

Kali Rocha as seen in "Man With a Plan"

Starting in 2006, Matt LeB-lanc took a five-year hiatus from acting on television. This was not long after one of the most popular '90s sitcoms ended its 10-year run. "Friends" had made LeBlanc a household name, and his portrayal of the lovably doofy Joey Tribbiani had made him TV royalty, so his sudden departure seemed to leave a hole in the television landscape.

When he returned to the screen in 2011, he was starring in "Episodes," a meta comedy in which LeBlanc played a fictional version of himself. He also enjoyed a three-year stint hosting "Top Gear." These shows were a far cry from the type of role that first launched his career. It wasn't until 2016 that LeBlanc finally decided to return to his roots, and "Man With a Plan" has been a hit so far. The family sitcom is a throwback to the genre's golden days — the 1990s — and mimics the wholesome-butdys functional family model of many of its predecessors. Still going strong, "Man With a Plan" is now returning for its third season. The premiere episode airs Monday, Feb. 4, on CBS.

Created by Jackie and Jeff Filgo and co-executive produced by LeBlanc, "Man With a Plan" follows the everyday life of LeBlanc's Adam Burns, an awkward, straight-edge suburban dad whose wife, Andi (Liza Snyder, "Yes, Dear"), decides to go back to work after 13 years of being a stay-at-home mom to their three kids. As a result, Adam has to pick up a greater share of the child care duties, and he begins to learn that his kids aren't as simple or innocent as he always thought they were.

Adam, a guy who seems to take very little seriously and would rather have a beer and read the paper than engage in the bureaucracies of his children's schooling, clumsily attempts to be the disciplinarian but eternally fails to win the respect of his scheming progeny. The upcoming season promises to feature more of the fan-favorite Marcy, Adam's overbearing sister-in-law, as the actress who plays her, Kali Rocha ("Liv and Maddie"), has been bumped up to cast regular. The show also stars Kevin Nealon ("Weeds") as Adam's immature brother, Don, with whom he runs a contracting business while juggling the difficulties of parenting. Matt Cook ("Clipped") provides even more flavor to the mixed bag of characters as Adam's contracting assistant and close friend, Lowell.

When asked why he was drawn to the concept of "Man With a Plan," LeBlanc has said that, being a father in real life, he wanted the opportunity to play the classic sitcom family man on TV. While the show is meant to emulate family comedy tropes of the past, one of LeBlanc's goals has also been to play with some contemporary parenting struggles. He told CBS Los Angeles that the biggest challenge of being a parent today is that kids are "harder to outsmart" than ever before as a result of the technology available to them. Much of the show's charm comes from the Burns kids - Kate (Grace Kaufman, "Bubble Guppies"), Emme (Hala Finley, "Back Roads," 2018) and Teddy (Matthew McCann, "All Stars," 2015) — constantly out-maneuvering their dad and causing never-ending chaos.

Co-stars LeBlanc and Snyder have shared a love of the energy on the set of "Man With a Plan" for the past two seasons, with Snyder telling CBS Boston that "we shouldn't be allowed to have this much fun at a job," and that the live audience makes for both a good time and an effective sounding board to see how well jokes are landing. The show has also become a nostalgic collaborative project as many of the crew members worked together on "Friends."

For the upcoming third season, the cast and crew are looking forward to a couple of changes that will help the show grow. In addition to Rocha joining the fold as a regular cast member, Jessica St. Clair ("Playing House") is set to make guest appearances as Andi's snobby sister, Kelly, who has an auspicious job in Chicago and only seems to come to town because she enjoys igniting petty arguments with Andi. With the positive changes that are in the works for the show, the third season of "Man With a Plan" is shaping up to be more fun than ever. According to Deadline, it was one of the network's most popular Monday shows last year, and hopefully there is even more good fortune to come.

In retrospect, taking five years to enjoy family life may have been one of the most felicitous decisions of LeBlanc's career, since he now emulates the experience of everyday family life on set, with his own comedic flair. At the end of the day, "Man With a Plan" is a simple, slice-of-life sitcom that's meant to be relatable. Kaufman, who plays the eldest of the three Burns children, told Nadula magazine that the show "revolves around the concept of family, and that no matter what may happen, we are always there for one another." Season 3 of "Man With a Plan" premieres Monday, Feb. 4, on CBS.

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