Funny ‘Men’ a gift for viewers
December 19, 2010 - 12:00 am
I’ve never pictured myself on the verge of 50. Given my steady diet of bad TV and Hot Pockets, 40 often seems like a stretch. But it’s nice to know, thanks to “Men of a Certain Age” (10 p.m. Mondays, TNT), that should I ever end up on the cusp of the half-century club, I won’t be expected to have figured out much of anything.
Work. Kids. Women. When it comes to most of life’s great mysteries, the pushing-50s at the heart of the dramedy — newly single party store owner Joe (frequent Mirage headliner Ray Romano), married car dealer Owen (Andre Braugher) and playboy actor Terry (Scott Bakula) — are only slightly more ahead of the game than if they’d just crash landed on this planet.
Thankfully, though, they have each other.
Whether during their regular hikes or the daily diner meals that necessitate those hikes, the lifelong friends serve as a support group of sorts — just not the touchy-feely, cry-about-your-daddy-issues kind that would send most guys scurrying for their remotes.
Take this exchange after Joe reluctantly dips a toe back in the dating pool only to find himself inexplicably romancing two women. He tries to choose one, but bachelor Terry suggests he date both.
Joe: “Then what? All of a sudden I’m with one and she’s, ‘Hey, what’d you do last night?’ And I was with the other one? Now what, I gotta lie? Then what, I’m wearing a fake mustache? I get two cell phones? No.”
Terry: “Joe, just relax. This is very simple, all right? You just have to learn the following helpful phrase: We don’t have to define things right away.”
Owen: “This is like if your penis could hire a lawyer.”
The second-season return of “Men of a Certain Age” has been like being reunited with a comfortable sweater. A worn, rumpled, ball-busting sweater.
There are no car chases. No life-or-death experimental surgeries. Not even a zombie, a serial killer or a murderous bootlegger in sight. The show is little more than a humorous collection of the challenges and small victories of growing older.
This season finds Joe hitting the links hoping to qualify for golf’s senior tour, which he’s quick to point out is now known as the Champions Tour. Owen finally is being handed the keys to the car dealership founded by his domineering father. And Terry is adapting to the everyday grind of auto sales at Owen’s lot while trying to ignore the siren song of his spotty acting career, even if it’s just from a lame frozen-dinner commercial.
But, as always, the best “Men of a Certain Age” moments involve the three veteran TV stars simply sitting around a table and talking. And unlike similar scenes that seem to dominate CBS’ “Blue Bloods” — the ones that leave you wondering whether you’re watching a cop drama or the “Hot Topics” segment on “The View” — the chemistry among Romano, Bakula and Braugher, who earned an Emmy nomination for his work last season, makes these seem organic.
The heavyset Owen has reached the stage where young women no longer notice he’s alive.
Owen: “I’m just invisible. They just look right through me.”
Joe: “They probably look halfway through you, and then they have to rest.”
And Terry, who’s usually drawn to much younger women, finds himself nearing a relationship that may not be so disposable.
Joe: “Another 25-year-old?”
Terry: “No, no. Our age.”
Joe: “Our age? That’s repulsive.”
One of the most easy-going series on TV, “Men of a Certain Age” usually is only groundbreaking in its simplicity. But an upcoming episode offers what may be TV’s first colonoscopy road trip as the guys head to Palm Springs for a weekend of golf and misadventures that ensure each of them will rival the medical procedure that brought them there for the title of biggest pain in the ass.
For the second straight year, “Men of a Certain Age” has felt like a Christmas gift for viewers, offering fresh episodes straight through the holidays when most everything else is stuck in rerun mode.
But this year, you can make the series an actual Christmas gift with the first-season DVD.
Letting the man in your life see he isn’t the only one who doesn’t have life figured out?
That just may be the greatest gift of all.
Christopher Lawrence’s Life on the Couch column appears on Sundays. E-mail him at clawrence@ reviewjournal.com.