Men of a Certain Age: The Complete First Season

Men of a Certain Age: The Complete First Season
When it comes to T.V. shows, success is a double-edged sword, as an actor can become so inexplicably tied to a role it becomes impossible to associate them with anything else. Ray Romano must have had that in mind when he started co-writing his follow-up to Everybody Loves Raymond, suspecting that some people might even view this as a sequel. And in a strange way, Men of a Certain Age has elements of a sequel, if Romano's former character, Ray Barone, separated from his wife and the rest of his family, and there was no laugh track, or much in the way of laughs. The big difference is that Romano is only one-third of the main cast; he is joined by Quantum Leap/Star Trek: Enterprise's Scott Bakula and Homicide: Life on the Street's Andre Braugher as a trio of middle-aged friends in their 40s, each with their own particular issues. Romano's Joe is dealing with a recent separation from his wife, in part due to his gambling problem. He still dreams of a career as a golf pro, but has had to settle for owning a party supply shop. Bakula is very believable as Terry, the never-quite-made-it actor who spends his time chasing anything in a skirt, no matter age or availability. Braugher is just plain wonderful as the world-weary Owen, a car salesman whose sales will never be good enough for his boss, who also just happens to be his father. He also has a headstrong wife and two kids to deal with. The bottom line is that Men of a Certain Age is a surprisingly good show. The talent, which there is no shortage of, give convincing performances, managing to shake off the ghosts of their pasts in the very first episode. The ten episodes are hardly filled with tons of action and, at times, the pace is almost glacial, but the way all the characters are fleshed out is impressive and by the end of the season, there is a desire to spend more time with these guys. There's definitely more drama than comedy, but the understated writing makes this well worth watching. Extras-wise, there are commentaries for the pilot episode and season finale, which provide some laughs, with the actors not really focusing on the nuances of the show. There are also 20 minutes of deleted scenes, a few short interviews and the typical gag reel, which promises more than it delivers. (Warner)