Two Guys, a Girl and a TV Set

Three college friends out in the world, filling the void with television…and loving it.

Actors of a Certain Age (Premiere Review)

Posted by Mr. Feeny on December 8, 2009

Ray Romano, Scott Bakula and Andre Braugher. Not exactly the A-List of male leads. At least right now. Bakula in the early 90s, Romano and Braugher at the turn of the century. All very hot. But since those heydays, Romano has voiced an animated mammoth, Bakula captained a forgotten starship and…I actually don’t know what Braugher’s done. Each one of them’s very talented and likeable, but not three guys you’d necessarily peg to star in a new drama (Men of a Certain Age…Mondays, 8pm) on TNT (who, if you hadn’t heard, “knows drama”).

But that’s why it works. These three fine middle-aged actors play three middle-aged suburbanites, lost in the world. Romano’s character manages a party store  and is addicted to gambling, which causes the demise of his marriage. Braugher is a car salesman just going through the motions to support his wife and kids. And Bakula is an out-of-work actor breezing from one job to the next, nearly as many as the girls he takes home. Each one of them puts on a front to hide the pain and confusion inside.

This is Moltisanti’s type of show. Lots of introspection, not much action. The best scenes showed each character alone, whether it be Romano testing his bookie just to see what would happen, or Braugher being cut down by his father. Men of a Certain Age has three dynamic and possibly interesting characters, hopefully with enough layers to be compelling.

But is the story? Middle-aged malaise? We’ve seen that. Over and over again. And this show doesn’t seem to offer any other storyline. Based on the pilot, viewers will be following these three men on their journey to find more meaning in their lives. It’s a very stylstic show, with interesting direction and conversational dialogue. It feels real. But real life isn’t all that interesting.

I’ll keep watching, if just for Bakula (who I loved in Quantum Leap). Men of a Certain Age seems to have a bit of all the things I look for in a good drama: interesting characters, solid development, good dialogue and a little humor. We’ll see if it keeps that up. Nonetheless, it’s refreshing to have a show that’s not just another serial or procedural.

Grade: B

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