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August 30, 2015

Review: Men of a Certain Age - Mind's Eye

by Jason Hughes, posted Dec 22nd 2009 12:43PM
Men of a Certain Age
If there was any doubt that this show's goal was too be completely authentic and realistic, I think a discussion about how many creams Owen uses on his ass just about seals the deal. I can only imagine what the waitress thinks of the bits and pieces she overhears of the boys' various conversations. But it does make it perfectly clear why that diner table has become the symbol of the show.

These boys have been a part of each other's lives for so long now that they're family. The fact that they're able to have conversations like we see each week, that certainly go deeper and more intimate than most "guy" friendships would ever be allowed, is a testament to that.

I know it's an aspect of his character to be overweight and unhealthy, but do you think it bothers Andre Braugher at all when he gets those script pages and they read that Owen sits there in nothing but his tighty-whities, hunched over? That's got to be awkward, but I guess being given fantastic material each week helps.

I thought Owen's story this week was remarkable. He started off by making a young girl cry because he couldn't budge any more on the price of a car (even though he technically could have and still made a modest profit). Lamenting his status in a generally despised profession, he then proceeded to do things differently and become the beloved salesman.

My only question would be if he truly didn't realize what an impact he was having on his commission? He seemed stunned when he got his check, but he had to have known that by eating into the dealership's profit margin, he was eating into his own as well. Of course, his father could just as easily given him an even smaller check than anticipated to prove a point... or be a dick. It's hard to tell with that guy.

I love how uncomfortably authentic the relationships are in Owen's life. He struggles with so many things, his health among them. Owen has to be one of the unhappiest men on television based on his job and relationship with his father, but he finds genuine joy in his family and friends. How disheartening to know that so many people are in the same boat in their own lives.

Joe's story is almost the opposite. He's frustrated with his failed marriage and his own shortcomings and addictions, but things always seem to be going pretty well in his professional life. I'm worried that his gambling problem might have an impact on the store at some point, but for now it's a safe haven from his troubles.

This week, he feared that he'd passed on some of his weird tics and neuroses to his son, but it turns out the kid's anxiety may be much worse. Granted, I say that without a real familiarity for Joe's problems, though I know he has them. Being crippled by anxiety to the point you can't board a bus is a pretty severe situation, though. It was great to see Joe able to step up and almost talk his son through this problem.

Terry had kids on the brain, but for an entirely different reason. As someone with a kid, I can't imagine what would be going through your mind if you were approaching fifty and still had never settled down and had a family. Clearly, based on what we saw here, it at least occasionally weighs on you.

Hired to pretend to be a prospective buyer for a co-worker, who was struggling to sell a house he'd bought a couple years ago to flip, Terry got into his role as a "husband" and "father" a bit too much. It was great seeing Cynthia Watros of Lost again, and she was great as his "partner-in-lie." But I think we all saw it coming a mile away that she either had a boyfriend, or at least wasn't getting as into the fake relationship as Terry was.

We've barely begun with Men of a Certain Age, and yet I feel already like I really know these guys. So when I think about their futures over the course of what I hope will be a pretty long run, I'm just excited to see what the writer's come up with. How much will their lives change over the next few years. Will Terry every settle down, or get solid work acting? Will Joe lose his store? Save his marriage? Will Owen get healthy? Lose his father? Gain the dealership? Quit altogether?

I have no idea and yet I'm so excited for the journey to come.

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This show is weak and just barely entertaining. It's another evening soap opera and not even as good as those during the day. If you want to see men suffer turn on a Knick game for god's sake, it may be a bad show but at least you'll know what your getting and it won't rot your brain

December 22 2009 at 2:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The majority of men in this country look more like Andre Braugher than Matthew McConaughey with their shirts off. It's actually refreshing to see and pretty brave of Braugher to display. He's been one of my favorite actors since the Glory & Homicide days. The body has definitely changed (like most of ours over 20+ years) but the acting chops are as great as ever.

December 22 2009 at 2:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I actually have a much easier time paying my cable bill these days, knowing that some tiny percentage of it trickles down to shows like MoaCA.

December 22 2009 at 2:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

why couldn't Trust Me be as good as this?

December 22 2009 at 1:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Edward's comment
Chip Douglas

Good point. I think that show centered on the advertising rather than the relationships. 30something was about relationships, and not the rush of the business. Same with Mad Men. It is about how they are trying to affect the rest of society and fit in to a rapidly changing world. Trust Me was more about advertising, with very little credible character development. All together too campy.
This was the first episode I saw of Men of A Certain Age. really enjoyed it. Great characters and great writing.

December 22 2009 at 2:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Interesting question.

For me, Eric McCormack and Tom Cavanagh rendered the show unwatchable -- in much the same way Courtney Cox does with Cougar Town. I liked them in their previous roles, but I just didn't buy them in the new ones.

On the other hand, the three leads in Men Of A Certain Age, although familiar, are playing totally new characters that are believable and, more importantly, that we care about. Of course, as noted above, great writing doesn't hurt either.

December 22 2009 at 2:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I was surprised Owen was shocked at his check, unless he cut the prices so much there was almost nothing to base his commission on. After all, it's all about volume!

December 22 2009 at 1:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I was confused about Owen cutting into his commission. If he's selling them at a much smaller profit margin, shouldn't 20 cars sold at a smaller profit margin mean more commission than 4 cars sold at a regular margin? I mean, he's not selling them at a loss (the dealership wouldn't allow that) so at the very least it should be the same paycheck as usual. Perhaps it's less than he was expecting, but it shouldn't be less than usual, enough that his wife noticeably blanches at it.

December 22 2009 at 1:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to john's comment

Good point. I hadn't thought of that but maybe he did some calculations behind the scenes or in his head based on what he had sold/earned before and he and his wife kinda had an idea of what they thought might be coming.

December 29 2009 at 12:14 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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