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Save This Show: Why 'Men of a Certain Age' Must Get Another Season

by Maureen Ryan, posted Jul 11th 2011 10:00AM
I posted my Emmy prediction story Friday, and you may have been surprised by the amount of attention I gave to 'Men of a Certain Age' in that piece.

The real surprise is this: The TNT show, which concluded its terrific second season last week, is in danger of cancellation. And I'm terrified it could die before it gets a realistic shot making an impression on TV viewers.

Despite recently winning a Peabody Award, 'MOACA' may not return next year, which is why I'm hoping that if the show gets some Emmy nods on Thursday, TNT executives will have one more reason to give the drama a third season.

To say it deserves to stick around is the understatement of the year. 'MOACA' is without question one of the best shows on television, and this lovely, bittersweet drama dying now would be like 'Friday Night Lights' going away after its first season. It's simply unthinkable.

If you consider yourself a fan of quality television but you haven't given 'MOACA' a shot, you really owe it to yourself to do so. Like so many of my favorite shows -- 'FNL,' 'Party Down,' hell, even 'Battlestar Galactica' -- it tells the story of characters who are torn between resignation and hope, between reality and aspiration. And it does so with so much humor, compassion and wry intelligence that I always come away from feeling a kind of glowing recognition. "It's a perfectly calibrated meditation on keeping hope alive in the face of realistic disappointment" or "This show gets it" are not the kind of things a network can put on a poster. But everything that transpired in the wonderful second season makes me glad that 'MOACA' exists -- and desperate for it to get another chance to work its low-key but effective magic.

Another season will give those of us who love 'MOACA' a chance to change people's perceptions of the show (and I've come to realize just how misunderstood the drama is in many quarters). And airing the third season all in one go, which the network will do going forward if 'MOACA' continues, would give this underhyped show a chance achieve the kind of momentum that it needs with the media and the public. The way the most recent season aired, in two 6-episode bursts separated by several months, each run was over before some people even realized 'MOACA' had returned.

But 'MOACA' has faced obstacles aside from problematic ratings. I still come across people who think that a show starring Ray Romano wouldn't be their cup of tea or who think they have to be male or in the title age group to relate to 'MOACA.' That is not the case, and Romano's performance is every bit as good as one you'd find on HBO, Showtime or FX.

The fact is, I'm starting to think I'm part of the problem. I'm of half a mind to tell you to forget everything I've previously written about 'MOACA.' It was too limited.

Of course, the show's premise is certainly the same as it's ever been -- three friends facing 50 deal with their families, their love lives and various job pressures -- but, as is the case with the best programs, the emotional richness of 'MOACA' can't be conveyed in that short description. And of course, I wouldn't want to take back the sentiments that many critics have expressed -- that 'MOACA' is a finely wrought, wonderfully acted, poignant and funny meditation on the challenges and triumphs of everyday life.

But if you haven't seen the show, or haven't watched it lately, toss out your preconceived notions of what it is and who might like it. Syfy's 'Battlestar Galactica' wasn't anything like the '70s TV show that preceded it, and 'FNL' wasn't a glorification of Texas football culture, to name two shows that overcame perception issues regarding their content. And far from being difficult or hard to relate to, 'MOACA' is one of the most inclusive and warmly appealing dramas out there (I'm not a man, but I often think 'MOACA' was made expressly for and about me). Like 'Friday Night Lights' and 'Parenthood,' it's a compassionate and perceptive a look at modern life, and whatever age you are, you're likely to find that it's full of insight and laconic wit.

Don't believe me? Check it out for yourself. Most 'MOACA' episodes are available here (and I recommend 'Go With the Flow,' 'Let the Sun Shine In' or 'A League of Their Owen' if you want a one-episode sample of the show). I certainly applaud TNT for putting the show's episodes online, but I'd applaud the network even more if it brings back 'Men' for a third season, because I truly believe that this is a show that deserves another shot at success. I say that not just as a fan of the show but as someone who realizes that TNT is not running a charity.

From a marketing perspective, I actually think that 'MOACA' comfortably fits into the TNT brand. TNT is a proudly mainstream network, and it became successful by rolling out a series of inclusive and generally recognizable shows. And even if Joe, Terry and Owen don't fit neatly into a pre-existing genre or format, they certainly aren't the McMansion types you often see on the broadcast networks or the pay cable dramas; they're eminently relatable people who work hard for a living. And 'MOACA's' central concept may not be as simple and sexy as "Aliens invade!" or "Cops catch bad guys!," but I don't think a marketing campaign that highlights the show's critical raves would be a bad idea.

The fact is, regardless of the show's moneymaking possibilities, the adventures of Joe (Romano), Terry (Scott Bakula) and Owen (Andre Braugher) bring a whole different level of prestige to TNT.

I am on record as not being a fan of former NBC executive Ben Silverman, but I can't forget the fact that while he was at NBC, he didn't allow 'FNL' to die, as so many executives would have. He (and other executives) found a way for 'FNL' to continue via a partnership with DirecTV, and if that's the only good thing Silverman did in his career, that's enough.

'MOACA' deserves that kind of Hail Mary pass -- if nothing else, it'll be the kind of show that TNT can point to when it's looking to attract talent to the network. "Hey, we don't just have Spielberg's alien drama," executives can tell creative types. "We have a Peabody-winning show that appears on many critics' Top 10 lists!" I know season 2 of 'MOACA' will be on mine.

Eight months ago, I was hoping against hope that FX's 'Terriers' would live to get a second season. It didn't, and though that cancellation was (and is) hard to take, in my heart of hearts I always knew the numbers for that show were just too low to make additional seasons viable. But I truly believe that 'MOACA' isn't one of those niche shows that has no hope of growing. I'm all for a television landscape that includes weird concepts, anti-heroes and unsettling darkness, but this show is not about those things. It's just a well-made, thoughtful, funny drama that just needs a regular spot where people can find it, and it needs to be on long enough for people to sample its many charms.

And truth be told, canceling the drama could do real harm to TNT's reputation. 'The Closer,' the network's flagship drama, is finishing out its run soon. Does TNT want to be known as the cable network that kept a quality drama like 'MOACA' on the air, or as the network that used to have that Kyra Sedgwick cop show and that really good drama starring Ray Romano?

Yes, Ray Romano. He's giving a performance of exceptional quality on 'MOACA,' as are Bakula and Braugher. Put away your 'Everybody Loves Raymond' memories and give 'MOACA' a chance. I hope TNT executives will continue to do that as well.

I'm not one of those people who thinks that network executives don't have souls. Call me crazy, I'm convinced that some of them do. If that theory is correct, there's no way TNT's brass can cancel this show. This is the moment in which executives should say, "The hell with it. This show represents the best we can do. And we're keeping it around because the best we can do is pretty damn great."

I'm just sayin'.

Follow @MoRyan on Twitter.

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Alessandro Machi

The Crusade continues with Fight to Save Men of a Certain age from Cancellation.
www.facebook.com/fighttosavemenofacertainagefromcancellation

September 03 2011 at 6:34 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Beth

Join our crusade at https://www.facebook.com/SaveMenOfACertainAge and sign the petition listed under Info on the FB page. This show was not promoted well. Many are saying they only heard about it through talk shows etc. and now they are hooked. Huge untapped fan base out there!

July 19 2011 at 10:17 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
art

I CAN'T BELIEVE THAT A NETWORK WOULD LIMIT IT'S INTELECTUAL PROGRAMING TO POORLY WRITTEN ALIEN INVASION SERIES, WITH HARDLY ANY ALIENS . WHO'S ONLY DRAW IS THE SPIELBERG NAME . THEY HAVE THE SAME OLD COP SHOWS, ONLY WITH ATRACTIVE WOMEN AS THEIR DRAWING FORCE. KYRA SEDGWICK CAN ACT AT LEAST. THAT SEEMS TO SHOW THE EXECS. DON'T ALL HAVE THEIR HEADS UP THEIR ASSES. SO THEN THEY HAVE THE LAME IDEA OF A SPINOFF; THAT'LL WORK. I'VE ALSO HEARD THEIR BRINGING BACK THAT DUMBASS DALLAS SOAP OPERA. THAT SHOW WAS PLAID OUT THIRTY YEARS AGO, NOW IT'S JUST GONNA TURN INTO A DEATH POOL. SPEAKING OF SOAP OPERAS MAYBE THEY SHOULD PUT HAWTHORNE ON ONE OF THE OLD STANDARD NETWORKS DURING THE DAY TIME. MY POINT IS IF THE TNT POWERS THAT BE THINK THAT DUMPING MEN OF A CERTAIN AGE; UNDOUBTABLY THE MOST PSYCHOLOGICALY BRILLIANT AND EMOTIONALLY INTRICATE TELEVISION PROGRAM TO HIT THE IDIOT BOX IN DECADES , PERHAPS THE SHOULD SEEK EMPLOYMENT WITH THE PROGRAMING GENIOUSES AT NBC

July 17 2011 at 9:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
warmfuzzyblanky

You can help save MOACA! Email TNT a short note here: http://support.tnt.tv/ics/​support/default.asp?deptID​=5477. Then go to the Save Men of a Certain Age page and hit "like." https://www.facebook.com/p​ages/Save-Men-of-a-Certain​-Age/160694517336268

July 14 2011 at 3:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
warmfuzzyblanky

You can help save MOACA! Email TNT a short note here: http://support.tnt.tv/ics/​support/default.asp?deptID​=5477. Then go to the Save Men of a Certain Age page and hit "like." https://www.facebook.com/p​ages/Save-Men-of-a-Certain​-Age/160694517336268

July 14 2011 at 3:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
grandmagoatie

I fell in love with Men of a Certain Age right from the start of the 1st season. I was so disappointed when the show started up last fall only to end soon after. I wasn't aware when it did start up again and missed the 1st couple of shows and now it is already over. How does TNT expect such a great show to do well if the viewers can't even find it? There are very few shows that I enjoy watching on a regular basis and this was one of them. Please save this show. We need to have more intelligent and entertaining shows than the reality shows that seem to be taking over.

July 12 2011 at 11:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Sheri

It's a great show! I hope to see it back next year.

July 12 2011 at 10:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Beaks

One of the best on TV. But yes, let's get real. The real dough out there is putting another airheaded, idiots only need watch, reality show on rather than TV with substance. Follow the buck.

July 12 2011 at 9:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
gendroffendr

why would any major network want to have a show of high quality when they could replace it with more "family guy" style dreck? why give us intelligent programming when its so much easier (and cheaper) to throw a house-full of Snookies together for a season of debauchery? why do the more difficult {and right} thing when the easy road awaits?

July 12 2011 at 6:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Emm2ThaEff

Mo,

As usual, your taste is impeccable. This show deserves many more seasons and it it really should appeal to just about everyone , because it does such a good job of being REAL. Kudos to Ray Romano for showing he learned something about acting while in the sitcom world and even more so for NOT forgetting what it is like to have to work for a living. My only quibble would be the inclusion of Scott Bakula's character storyline and his acting career woes - that smacks of Hollywood doing some navel gazing, but it is done so well, I can forgive it. Excellent show, if you like quality TV, give it a chance.

July 12 2011 at 9:20 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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