Monday, December 07, 2009

'Men of a Certain Age' review - Sepinwall on TV


In today's column, I review TNT's "Men of a Certain Age":
Ray Romano is a much better actor than you think.

Because he was a former stand-up comedian who starred in a sitcom ("Everybody Loves Raymond") where he shared a name and backstory with his character, it's easy to tag him as a Jerry Seinfeld type, a comic (barely) capable of playing himself.

But Romano won a deserved acting Emmy for "Raymond." He grew as a performer over the life of that series, got adept not just at delivering jokes, but physical comedy, reacting to his co-stars, and even the occasional serious moment.

I'm sure it's tempting to look at the cast of "Men of a Certain Age" — a new series Romano created with fellow "Raymond" writer Mike Royce about three friends in their late 40s — and say Romano has no business acting in a drama opposite Andre Braugher and Scott Bakula. But Romano will sneak up on you, and the show might, too.
You can read the full "Men of a Certain Age" review here. I'll have a short, separate post up tonight for after it airs. Based on the other critical reaction I've seen so far, I'm expecting this one to be divisive.

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

From Jan:

Is this a remake of a British series that had Nigel Havers in it? I can't remember the name of it, but the premise seems awfully familiar except I think there were 4 men in the British series.

Doug S said...

Andre Braugher has earned the right to have every show he is in sampled, at the very least. To me, in this cast he's Gladys Knight and the other two guys are Pips, but I'm giving it a shot.

Alan Sepinwall said...

No, it's not a remake of "Manchild" - or of anything. But, certainly, the premise isn't shockingly original or anything.

Ingrid said...

You convinced me to give this show a spot on the DVR lineup. I just hope it does not depress my husband.

BF said...

When did Ray Romano turn into Zach Braff's older, fatter stunt double?

Kensington said...

I'm really looking forward to this.

HautieTx said...

I am also looking forward to this show.

I am so tired of the whole whiny female sh*t. I like the idea of a "man" show done as a drama/comedy. Plus I like all 3 lead actors.

Then there is the upside of me getting three new "The Closer" to watch!

Alan Sepinwall said...

When did Ray Romano turn into Zach Braff's older, fatter stunt double?

Braff always looked like a cross between Romano and Tom Cavanaugh.

JanieJones said...

I was planning on giving this show a shot. I was aware (in my own mind) that Romano has more to offer than jokes. I was having a discussion with a male friend of mine about Romano's acting abilities. I think he is afraid he will be facing some of his own issues if he vest anytime in this show. We disagreed about Romano's skills. Regardless, anything with Braugher is worth a look at the very least. I am hoping to be pleasantly surprised.

Otto Man said...

Nice column, but tell your copy editor there's no "h" in "wistful."

Pamela Jaye said...

@Doug,
I read one review which suggested you give 2 shots. I can't remember the reason right now but whoever it was recommended watching the first 2 before giving up.

I'm up to my neck in reviews over here (articles & interviews & blogs, oh my!) One of my friends who, like me, complained that nothing Scott is ever in gets enough publicity, has uttered "be careful what you wish for" and I've heard half a radio interview (darn - forgot radio (but TNT didn't)) and learned you can download podcasts of the Dennis Miller Show (who knew he was on radio?) but only if you pay him (and don't live outside the US)

At the very least, my website is currently on blogger, so as long as it doesn't go down... that brief interruption was me saving a backup... at least I won't get slashdotted like the day Scott was signed for Enterprise (though I really don't expect to - this "news" isn't new)

Pamela Jaye said...

I'm a little slow on the uptake today but I've heard radio interviews and read Q&A's from bloggers I've never even heard of.
Alan, did they decide to skip the TV critics, or was it just some TCA thing that was in a particularly crowded time slot? (do they schedule more than one thing at a time at TCA or do they just not schedule lunch?)

(or were they not there are all? I know they were at upfronts)

LDP said...

I'm a 46 year-old man, and I think Andre Braugher is terrific, so I'm looking forward to this show. It should be right in my wheelhouse, but the last time I thought that about a "guy" show was when "Mind of the Married Man" was new, and that turned out to be nothing but a chick flick in disguise.

Brandy said...

I like all three although I would expect Romano to be the weakest. I was planning on checking it out no matter what but I was expecting to be disseminated. Now I have some hope on that front.

Tracey said...

I'm a bit closer to That Age than you are, Alan (I'm 45), so I'm not sure how entertained I'll be at humor about the subject, but I'll certainly give it a try. I've always liked Scott Bakula, and I sat through a season or two of the wretched Star Trek he was subjected to for his sake, so I'll set my DVR and hope for the best.

amysa said...

I've always casually liked Ray Romano (standup, Dr. Katz, sitcom, etc.), but I never put a lot of thought into him until he guest starred as a totally screwed up version of himself on "The Knights of Prosperity". After that I realized that I *really* like the guy.

Anonymous said...

I've never been very fond of Romano but have always been a big fan of Bakula and Braugher. The promos looked quite promising and I will give the show a shot because of Bakula and Braugher.

Sarah Mac said...

Alan, thanks for making me aware of a show that I otherwise might not have gotten around to as I watch TNT very little and might have missed the promos. GIven that Scott Bakula (Chuck's Dad) and Andre Braugher (House's Therapist) are coming off two guest spots that elevated the shows they were on in my opinion, I will definitely watch an episode or two and see what I think. I'm definitely one of those people who wouldn't have gone into the show expecting much out of Ray Romano so I hope that means I'll be pleasantly surprised.

Pamela Jaye said...

Alan, thanks for making me aware of a show that I otherwise might not have gotten around to as I watch TNT very little and might have missed the promos.

Sarah - thanks so much for making me believe that there was at least one person left in America who hadn't heard of the show!
I was beginning to wonder if the promo blitz was overkill; and my friend saying she'd seen someone post on a message board that if he saw those guys in the diner in the middle of the road one more time, he was going to run them over with his truck... sorta confirmed my suspicion. But apparently I was wrong.
Yay!

Anonymous said...

Soooo, the writers actually believe that men of a certain age are all dealing with back alley gambling payoffs and company kissoffs? I was sad to see Romano's character be portrayed so darkly. The humour was nice but not enough to shake the shroud of depression the show left me with. I hope it lightens up.
Debbie

lexein said...

Disappointed in scene after scene. Romano can't act&drive to save his life, turning his head all the way around to stare at his stupid son. A real dad would glance in the rearview or stare straight ahead, fuming. Are they rubbing our faces in his inevitable crash-with-hot-chick-fatality? Or is Romano so vain that he demanded all full-face shots (no rearview mirrors)?

Star Lawrence said...

I set it up to record because Scott Bakula went to HS with my brother. What a letdown. These are the shaggiest sad sacks ever--and cliched...Yeah, all Romano could "get" is a heavy woman...etc. Why would any woman of any size want a degenerate gambler who slumped around a store, even if he owned it? I took it off my list.