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August 31, 2015

Men of a Certain Age -- An early look

by Allison Waldman, posted Dec 4th 2009 2:02PM
If you ever watched Everybody Loves Raymond -- or currently watch the reruns -- you might wonder what would Raymond become after a while. What would happen if he didn't have Deborah yelling at him and his family keeping him from being a self-indulgent slob who only thought of himself. Men of a Certain Age shows you the dark side of Raymond, only here Ray Romano is called Joe. Joe and his college buddies, Owen and Terry, are on the wrong side of 40 and they know it.

Watching the pilot, I thought of the song "Is That All There Is?" because that sort of the feeling these characters evoke. Is this what it means to be a grown up? The three men are a triptych of the modern American male; one is divorced and wallowing in his loneliness, the other is married and drowning in family and a life that's oppressive, the third appears to be carefree and breezy, but he's dissatisfied with his lack of accomplishment.

As Joe, Romano has the same hound dog appeal that he showed as Raymond, especially in his neurotic second-guessing of himself. Nothing about Joe is uncomplicated, but he's the one whose mucked it up for himself. It's hard to feel for the guy when he's such a schlemiel. But this isn't Raymond. Joe has an edge; he's a mess even if he thinks he has a handle on his life. He doesn't.

Andre Braugher plays Owen. He's the oppressed guy, a dutiful husband, plagued-upon son and father of three. He hates his job, hates his burdens, but he's trapped. Braugher's submerged anger works perfectly here. He also looks ten years older than the 48 years he plays.

Then there's Terry, Scott Bakula. He should have the world on a string, but his boyish good looks are starting to fade and he's tap-dancing more than he's had to in the past. He knows he's squandered his chances.

It's interesting that I found these three men worth watching, funny even, while another TV critic did a preview (in the print edition) and panned the show vociferously. I don't think he liked seeing himself in these guys, but that's not how I saw it. I liked Men of a Certain Age and hope it continues being an unblinking mirror on the men it's exploring. It's not whining and kvetching; it's the way it is for some people.

Men of a Certain Age premieres on Monday, December 7, at 10 p.m. on TNT.

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Bruce Kaufman

I watched the show tonight, the 3 men portrayed definitely are the reflection of real life. I am 59, married 31 years, raised 3 sons, & worked for a family business for 40+ years. I can relate to the Andre Braugher portrayal to the letter, it is like a mirror image of my life. Sad to say, the father in the show was my father to a tee till he passed away 2 years ago. If I could I would tell to run, the father won't ever praise him, will never elevate him, & most of all will not give him the business while he is still alive. He will be lucky if he gets the business after his father passes, I am still waiting. When his father berated him & he broke down in tears, wow, how many times did my father do the same to me. I cannot count the times I use to drive & cry, of course depression followed. Now I am on happy pills, see a therapist & a psychiatrist, I can anything. I don't talk to my mother (who got the business), my alcoholic brother, nor my overbearing sister, but I don't hate the work anymore. If the writers ever need ideas for Andre's character, tell them to get in touch with me. In 40+ years, I have many experiences with the circumstances.

December 09 2009 at 12:49 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I loved Raymond and I loved Quantum Leap and I think Braugher is great so I'm looking forward to this.

December 05 2009 at 2:58 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Joyce N.

I'm looking forward to this show and hoping to learn something about what makes these creatures called men, click. I'm 62 and still haven't quite figured that out yet.

December 04 2009 at 5:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Daune Calovini

Thank you, Allison! I was wondering if I was nuts, after I read Matt Roush's review in TV Guide. Do you think it's the difference between men and women watching? Do you think women will respond more to Joe and Owen and Terry?

Because, initially, I thought TNT was making a mistake pairing it with The Closer (I'd always thought of it as geared to a female audience), but maybe if dudes are turned off by looking in the mirror, it's a great programming move!

Watching Joe wallow and even dig himself in deeper, and then deny it!, made me uncomfortable. Part of that is because we've never seen Ray Romano like this. And, isn't that exciting for him? Don't all of us of a certain age know at least two of these guys?

I watched the first three episodes. I will say that I liked the show more, the more I watched. So, when I talked to my friends about the show, I said, please promise me you'll watch at least one episode after the pilot, before you make up your mind. Then, I watched them again, with my husband, who IS Owen. I wondered if he could handle the relatableness (Not a word, but you know what I mean). He could, and he laughed a lot. And, he was uncomfortable. And, he liked those guys.

I really hope it finds an audience. I know we'll be watching!

December 04 2009 at 5:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I am looking forward to watching it too

December 04 2009 at 3:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Sounds as if it's based on the British show Men Behaving Badly, which I enjoyed.

December 04 2009 at 2:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to bkdealer's comment

Sounds more like another US shot at Manchild to me. (I say another because Showtime did a Manchild pilot a couple years ago with John Corbett and Kevin Smith, but passed it over for Californication.)

December 04 2009 at 8:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

RobynM, you're right--for some reason I remembered it was called Men Behaving Badly, which it appears is actually a series I've never seen.

December 04 2009 at 10:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

looking forward to this!

December 04 2009 at 2:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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