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October 6, 2015

Review: Men of a Certain Age - The New Guy

by Allison Waldman, posted Dec 28th 2009 11:40PM
(S01E04) As Men of a Certain Age progresses, it's becoming clear that things aren't as black and white as we might have thought they were. There are many more shades of gray among these three men, and I don't mean in the salt and pepper in their hair. For a while in this episode, it looked like nothing much was happening. There wasn't a lot of action. But like that whiskey sour that Owen probably shouldn't have drank, the impact hit later on. For more on that and which direction Terry took after the party, follow me after the jump.

Peter Pan syndrome. Finally someone said it out loud about Terry. Was his decision not to follow Brenda home after the auction a sign that he's growing up, that he was at the party for the kids like he claimed and not just to pick up a hot date for the night? No, I doubt it.

But even though Terry defended the new guy -- the interloper -- in Joe and Sonya's marriage to Owen, he recognized himself in him. In Terry's heart of hearts, he agreed with Owen and thought the guy was not blameless in the collapse of Joe's marriage. So, perhaps, Terry's choosing not to interlope on Brenda's engagement was more than a pang of conscience.

I respected Owen's reaction to hearing that Sonya had been cheating on Joe before they'd broken up. Remember, Owen was only aware of Joe's biased side of the story. He believed that Joe had been innocent and Sonya dumped him without a good reason. Owen was as stunned -- as we were -- when Joe admitted he had "cheated" too. Not sexually, but that was a mere technicality. Clearly, Joe and Sonya's marriage had been broken long before interlopers entered the picture.

Doesn't it seem like Joe's intent on destroying himself? He's a walking example of a man in a mid-life crisis, only as interpreted by Ray Romano, he's too neurotic to sleep around. Instead he's a prisoner of his own misery, watching game shows and vegging out in a motel room. What would he have done for diversion if his bookie hadn't invited him out for Chinese? Of course, the fact that he wound up quoting the bookie philosopher to Owen was disturbing.

You can imagine Terry and Owen staging an intervention for Joe pretty soon. He's teetering on the brink of a full-blown depression. Joe's go-alonger tendencies are going to get him in deep trouble, and if he can't pay off his gambling debts, he's going to get his head kicked in.

Other points of interest
-- Does Terry put up with his cable boss just to keep the job? I couldn't believe he actually found a roach for the guy.

-- Owen returning to his wife after visiting Joe was fitting... but wisely not played as overly sentimental.

-- Sonya checked out on her marriage to Joe long before he moved out. She had emotionally checked out, but that was after he had already done the same to her.

-- It sure looks like Terry's got a hankering to settle down if he could just find the right lady. He knows the clock is ticking on his ability to skate with good looks and rakish charm.

-- I didn't understand the act of protest by Joe and the bookie, i.e. spitting at the camera and throwing Cheetos at the lens. Woo-hoo, big deal.

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Tod Augustine

What is the actress,s name that plays the engaged or married one that wants to have a drink with Scott Bakula and he turns the opposite direction?

March 11 2011 at 5:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I was about ready to blow off this show. Due to the potential I felt it had, I thought they were out of ideas already when Ray began that overly empathetic period with his son. I was very glad NOT to see that story line continued. This past episode made this series come alive for me. The situations these guys are in ring true. I feel - as do almost all of you - that Owen's character is definitely the most fully developed. The contradictions are a bit much. For such a (apparently) mature and smart individual, the fact that he continues to put up with the humiliation - both real and imagined - his father dishes out - are pretty hard to believe. I would hope that he could either find or seriously look for alternative employment. His continual sour outlook on life and his occasional inability to appreciate his wife may net him some trouble in the not too distant future. The proof of his acting ability is that I'm sitting here critiquing his "life" while mine is suspended - writing about his:>

December 30 2009 at 9:13 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It struck my midway through this episode that the writers have set up friends for both Joe and Terry. Joe has his bookie, and as odd as the relationship is, Terry has his boss.

The thought lingered all the way until the final scene in with Owen and his wife in the garden. Then it hit me. She is more than his wife, she's his friend.

Not every marriage is like that. Owen is a lucky man.

December 30 2009 at 3:49 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think that Owen is the best written character of the bunch cause when all is said and done, he's probably the closest to 'real' for both Romano and Royce who supposedly also have happy marriages.

Joe is the sad sack that Romano might have become without his wife though I don't doubt that his neuroses are the real thing ;-).

However, despite Bakula's obvious charm and talent, the writers are still having a bit of difficulty giving Terry anything truly substantial to work with thus keeping him lightweight. I don't doubt Bakula's ability to handle the tough stuff if they'd give him some but the character, and wherever they're taking him, is still questionable. R & R admitted that Terry is based on someone they knew when writing ELR but with him they need to use more of their imagination than their reality and are still finding it hard.

In other words, I think it's easier for someone as talented as ABraugher to bring Owen to life because of how well he's written than it is for Bakula, who needs to depend on subtlety and charm to make Terry substantial cause the writing just ain't there for him. At least, not yet. I like Terry....and I'm hoping R&R see fit to give him more to do.

Just check on how much camera time each character is getting (much less how 'deep' they get) and you'll see my point.

December 29 2009 at 4:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jo Anne

Who would have thunk these three would have such great
chemistry? I continue to love this show!!!

December 29 2009 at 1:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I agree with Mike about the Cheetos/cam moment. It wasn't funny but it's just the right kinda 'dorky' for a couple of buzzed white guys in that situation. I found the juxtaposition between that scene and those at the fund raiser sad as I find much of this show. But it's a good kinda sad because it resonates as true.

They've created a lot of potential cliches on this show but, as mentioned in the review, add a ton of gray to their stories.

Joe wasn't outraged by his wife's infidelity because he has known for a long time that it was more than his gambling that ended the marriage.

I know a couple of Terrys. They brag about their sexual dalliances and how all of their married friends are jealous of them but they are as empty as his chracter is at the end of the day. I'm glad he turned right at the light tonight instead of following the engaged chick.

And all I can say about Owen is that his story reminds me of that Stones song. He may not have gotten all he wanted but he sure has heck has gotten all that he needs. He is a tortured, stand up guy who screws himself almost more than his father screws him but he is decent and loved and doesn't that count for something in the end?

Andre Braugher is, indeed, a great actor in this show but I have to give props to Romano and Bakula, as well: two actors I thought weren't capable of much more than camp and cheese. Glad they're proving me wrong.

December 29 2009 at 5:11 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

who played brenda, the married woman who invites terry to have a drink with her? she looks familiar.

December 29 2009 at 2:49 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to erica's comment

She's "Naomi" from Seinfeld, the woman whose laugh sounded like Elmer Fudd and who went with Kramer to Susan's cabin. The actress has clearly had some face work so she looks kind of different.

December 29 2009 at 5:52 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I do understand the Cheetos/camera moment because that is what drunk white guys would do.
Andre Braugher continues to display his best acting ability among the trio. He came off as the most-grounded and real this time, irregardless of the continual threats to his own health by intake of too much sugar. I did not understand the pandering to the guy who wanted some smoke. And, if the Romano character's wife had been cheating on him way before the separation, I do not think many men would have shrugged it off.

December 29 2009 at 2:38 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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