Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Men of a Certain Age-"The Great Escape"

Joe, Owen, and Terry meet for breakfast on "Men of a Certain Age"
Credit: TNT

My review of the midseason premiere of Men of a Certain Age, and some thoughts on the series as a whole, are after the jump.

I never thought that I would end up watching this show when it premiered back in December 2010. What stopped me was it didn't look like the kind of show that I would enjoy. I knew and liked the actors involved, but I wasn't sure that I would like a show about old people dealing with old people problems. Because TNT doesn't put their shows on Hulu and a year ago I didn't trust network streaming players, I never watched the show. But with summer starting, and not having a lot of other TV to watch, I decided to give this show a try. I watched the first half of the season, and within two episodes, I started to enjoy the show. 

What I found was a show that was not based on the idea that getting old sucks, it was a show that was about the adventure of getting old. I'm not sure I could have sat through a show that was basically 42 minutes a week about how getting old sucks. What this show ended up being was a show that was about these three characters who happened to be "of a certain age". Over the course of the seven episodes that I watched over the Memorial Day weekend, I was sucked into the journeys of Joe, Owen, and Terry, and this episode continued those journeys in a very strong way.

The episode continued (and ended) Terry's relationship with Erin. I thought this was one of the stronger aspects of the front half, with Terry finally admitting that he was in love with this woman. Terry has never been known as the "mature" one (from what I can tell in the first 6), and this was a major step for his character. It was one of the first times that we've seen Terry show signs that he is going to make something of his life and not let it waste away. I guess this is Terry's general arc for the series and what his portion of the series is about. This episode provides a huge roadblock in his journey. The woman who he was in love with breaks up with him while he was spending the night with her. This isn't completely out of the blue, as it was hinted at in the midseason finale, but it was beautifully executed. Scott Bakula (*) nailed everything in this episode. This should launch some real growing up for Terry in the rest of the season.

(*) It's a little weird for me to see Papa Bartowski not spewing random Intersect technology or saying "quit the spy game Chuck". It's a very different role then I'm used to seeing him play, and he does it very well.

The show continued Owen's storyline about him running the car dealership. Much of what happened in the episode didn't do much to further the ongoing arc, but it did set up some great material for the future. I knew that Owen would never sell the dealership, at least not in this episode, but him saying that he would figure out a way to build the body shop was strong setup for the future. It set up Owen finally taking control of the dealership and bringing it out of its hole. This is obviously something that won't happen immediately, but it's something that should make for a very good arc. 

Joe continues down a path towards the inevitable, him falling off the wagon and returning to gambling. He's spending a lot of time with his former bookie Manfro. I thought that Ray Romano and Jon Manfrellotti did a fantastic job dealing with Manfro and his cancer. This was a very strong part of the previous part of the season and it continued to be very strong in this episode. It held my interest and that's all I need from a plotline on this show.

Some other thoughts:
  • I hope the ratings come in strong tomorrow and that we can get a third season of this show.
  • I don't know what to make of Joe almost sleeping with his ex-wife. I hope this doesn't continue, because it would be a stupid decision for his character's path.
  • The subplot with Owen and his wife was cute but harmless.
  • Manfro met a girl! If the show sticks with this plotline, things could get very interesting.
  • I imagine a very special episode would involve the characters meeting for lunch or dinner, rather then breakfast.
Overall, this is a very strong show that makes for some great summer television. I don't know if I'll ever have this much to say again, because of how light the show is, but I will be writing about this show weekly. It caught my attention and is a harmless commitment.

What did everyone else think?

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