Television Review: Men of a Certain Age, "Pilot"
by R.J. Carter
Published: December 7, 2009
Hitting forty is like driving on a one-way road across the desert and realizing you've got a half-tank of gas. You can't go back, and you can waste a lot of fuel idling wondering if you should continue going forward.
That's the metaphorical position faced by Joe (Ray Romano), Owen (Andre Braugher), and Terry (Scott Bakula) in the new TNT television dramedy, Men of a Certain Age, premiering Monday, December 7 at 10|9c on TNT. All three are in their mid-to-late 40s, each having taken different paths to arrive at their spot in the desert, yet all traveling together as friends.
Joe owns a gift and novelty store, which he operates with old-school, old-man style. He's also been living in a hotel for the past few months, having officially separated from his wife but not commiting to a place of his own yet in case she's willing to take him back. He's got a bit of a gambling addiction that is touched upon but not in any tragic details, but for the most part, Romano's character is very much the Ray Romano that audiences have come to know and love, carrying a slight neurosis tinged with embarrassment, always second guessing himself. This is most evident during an outright hysterical scene where he accidentally hits an opossum while driving Owen and Terry to their new morning exercise activity, outdoor hiking.
Owen is the overworked family man, with a wife, two kids, a mortgage, home renovations -- he's taxed to the max, and his job at his father's car dealership is without reward as his father wants someone sharp to take over the family business when he's gone. Unfortunatly, dad isn't impressed with Owen's performance -- neither professionally nor personally -- and isn't shy at expressing his displeasure.
Terry is just the opposite. He's an out-of-work actor doing temp jobs at an agency that's so ineptly run it makes The Office look like a case study for efficiency at Perot Systems. He's laid back to the point of lackadaisical, and always manages to have a young girl ready to bed him. He doesn't seem to mind not having any acting work, and blows off open casting calls as being beneath him -- yet in his private moments we see how important it really is to him; as with all the characters of this new series, there's a lot of rich character mining to be done.
Ray Romano, Andre Braugher, and Scott Bakula as Joe, Andre and Terry
in TNT's new series, Men of a Certain Age.
TNT bills Men of Certain Age as more of a drama series, and to be certain there's nothing sitcom about it. However, that doesn't stop it from being hilariously funny, instantly addicting, and wholly engrossing. You care about these guys, and you want to see what's going to happen to each of them -- but at the same time, you can't help but laugh at the situations -- perhaps from a point of empathy.