Prime time drama is something usually reserved for blow-em-up action, unrealistic life situations, or a very complicated love triangle (octagon, etc). All of these are extremely over the top, and, for the most part, are completely lost on male audiences. From Ray Romano comes Men of a Certain Age, a show that looks to change all that, a show that gives viewers the things most shows can’t: a believable drama that has the allure of intense story, while also being accessible by everyone who watches it, especially men.
Men of a Certain Age follows three lifelong friends in their daily lives. Joe (Ray Romano) is the owner of a party supplies store whose recently separated from his wife, Owen (Andre Braugher), a car salesman who is knee deep with family issues of his own, and Terry (Scott Bakula), a man who has spent his entire life living in the moment and never looking toward the future. Each of these men are dealing with problems in their life, such as gambling or loneliness, and try to hold on to what sense of normalcy they can, all while still remaining friends. More after the jump:
What makes this show so great is how realistically written it is. Instead of soap opera drama or insane plot twists, it takes situations that many people can relate to. There aren’t many people who can relate to a doctor who has an unhealthy, on again then off again relationship with a man who has an evil twin, but they can understand a man who despises his job, but knows he must keep it to care for his family. It doesn’t take long for the viewer to become engrossed in the show. Each of the three men embody personality traits that all of us have, and before long, the viewer will be laughing along with them, and crying with them.
The characters themselves are expertly crafted. Again, Romano and the staff have done an excellent job in the writing, specifically in the characters they portray. Joe embodies the doesn’t like what he’s become, who feels as though he’s constantly making mistakes, and worse, can’t seem to right his ways. Owen wants a life far different than what he has, but with the love he has for his family, along with his responsibilities, he knows he can’t change things. Terry is a free soul who loves the now, and begins to realize that he never planned for anything beyond that. Even the minor, one episode characters bring something important to the scene they’re a part of. Every human aspect is presented and explored in each episode.
The actors themselves do a fantastic job in their roles. Bakula does an excellent job portraying Terry, and Braugher is very believable as Owen. If anything is a distraction it’s found in Romano. Not that he does a bad job, the exact opposite, actually, but having been absent from the television world for so long, many viewers will probably have a problem seeing past the comically lovable character from Everybody Loves Raymond. It’s hard for an actor to transcend from a pigeonhole, especially when the last time the actor was seen was in that role. Either audiences will try the show and see past this quickly, or they’ll never turn it on because of it.
The first three episodes lead perfectly into one another. The first episode sets the series up flawlessly. Instead of leaving with some sort of cliffhanger or ‘to be continued’ mentality, it essentially wraps up the theme of the episode by the end, having probed deeper into the lives of the men, giving the audience a little more understanding of the problems the men face, while also giving them something to look forward to.
Overall, TNT has picked a winner in Men of a Certain Age. With expert writing and implementation, the show deserves to be a hit. Unfortunately, if the viewing public will give it a fair chance is the hardest question to answer.
Grade: Show – A
Men of a Certain Age airs Monday nights on TNT at 10/9c