Review: Men of a Certain Age - Go With the Flow
by Jason Hughes, posted Jan 12th 2010 4:15AM
(S01E06) Who knew Men of a Certain Age had a lighter side? In a rather dramatic -- or actually not so dramatic -- departure from the previous five episodes, "Go With the Flow" showcased a lighter side, and it was much appreciated. As much as I love the series, it's nice to know that these guys aren't just suffering constantly with their various issues and phobias.
Actually, Joe's issues were front and center in this story of his blind date with Sarah Clarke (Nina from 24), but that's a lot of what made it so fun. Actually, the fallout from Joe's issues impacted not only that first date, but also a span of days at work, when an online chat with Dory (Clarke) prior to the date went somehow very wrong for Joe.
As much as I loved all of the goofy situations Joe found himself in throughout this episode, I think I may have enjoyed the table talk between the guys even more. I have to wonder how much of those conversations are scripted and how much is the actors ad-libbing, because there's a genuine quality to them that almost seems impossible to write out word for word.
Joe made two big mistakes this week. First, he allowed himself to get carried away in an unprofessional manner while at work, leading to a series of bizarre conversation and situations where he tried to figure out what people could or couldn't see of his body from the doorway, starting with abruptly hitting Maria in the face with a CD to keep her back.
He proceeded to test things with his bookie, to see what he could see of him behind the desk, before ultimately throwing the money at him, as well, to keep him back. The brilliant culmination of the whole thing was that Maria had seen him in his boxers, but certainly was never going to admit it.
The awkwardness between Joe and his employees at his store is another one of those little details that I think Men gets just right. They think he's a weird dude, but probably cool in an "old guy" way, but at the same time he's their boss. His insecurities only make the situation more complicated, because he is an authority figure to them, so you can see their struggle as they try and figure out how to respond to him.
It was a little sad to see Joe's son Albert struggling so much with his own anxieties at his baseball game. This is the second time we've seen him crippled to inaction by irrational fears. It's a tough spot for Joe to be in, as he wound up teaching his son that it was okay to fake an injury to get out of something uncomfortable, but I have to figure this whole situation is something that's going to play a part in wherever the show is going. The anxiety must come and go, or Albert wouldn't even be on the team, much less involved in anything else.
To get back to Joe's story, his second mistake was in taking women advice from Terry. Terry's methods with women require a swagger and confidence that Joe doesn't possess. So when he tells Cindy that he just wants to look at her, in an attempt to slow himself down, it went about as wrong as could be expected. The problem was he didn't know that he wasn't supposed to really look at her. See, looking at a hot woman does nothing to slow things down when they reach that special point of no return (wow, this just went there).
I loved every other aspect of the date, including the "weird honesty" they both did throughout. There was some great banter and the dialogue was, as usual, just flawless. I think I would enjoy this show just as much on the radio if I could just listen to stories like this one every week. It was a brilliantly told and very entertaining story about a very standard thing.
Actually, I lied. I even loved Joe's disastrous and explosive rush to the bathroom, leading to his slightly blackened eye, and his fear of ever opening the door again. That he ultimately did and they were able to talk through what just happened with yet another sweet and sincere conversation just sealed the deal that Men of a Certain Age is among the absolute best that television has to offer right now.