Monday, January 11, 2010

Men of a Certain Age, "Go with the Flow": Black-eyed Joe

A quick review of tonight's "Men of a Certain Age" coming up just as soon as I see if they have a fitting room...
"Stop analyzing and obsessing. Just let yourself enjoy something." -Terry
I really wish I wasn't at press tour so I had time/energy for a longer review of "Go with the Flow," which was one of the early episodes I watched on a screener, and which is the one where I decided I was in with "Men of a Certain Age" for the long haul.

On the one hand, it's an atypical episode for the young series. Where previous installments focused evenly on the three guys, this is almost entirely Joe's episode, with Terry and Owen providing a running commentary (and getting occasional brief spotlight moments like Owen's wife calling him her big sexy bear). And the style is more overtly comic than before (though never at the expense of the show's level of reality), with both the date and the cyber-sex incident leading to some explosive bits of physical comedy: Joe throwing the money at Manfro, and especially Joe running away from Dory when the "I just want to look at you" advice backfired. My laptop nearly tumbled off my lap when he threw Dory off of him, sprang up from the couch and crashed into the lamp. It's not a shock to know that Ray Romano can do physical comedy, as he did plenty of that on "Raymond," but to see a moment like that pulled off in a more subdued, realistic setting, without feeling like it doesn't belong is impressive.

(Also impressive? Sarah Clarke as Dory. I really only know her as Nina Myers from "24," so she was a revelation as this intriguing, fun, sexy potential girlfriend for Joe. I want to see much more of her as the season goes along.)

And yet even with the slapstick, and the shaggy dog nature of the whole story, "Go with the Flow" never lost sight of those small, gap-filling moments this series does so well. Joe panics with Dory and potentially ruins everything, but then they have an honest conversation about it, and for once Joe's neuroses don't scare someone else away. It was another great, vulnerable, oddly charming moment from Romano.

Even the payoff to the cyber-sex subplot, while funny, felt small and real. This one was just a pleasure to watch, start to finish.

What did everybody else think?

37 comments:

Anonymous said...

Just a really fun episode as Men of a Certain Age is fast becoming my favorite show on television. I just felt satisfied at the end of the hour.
I came into the show wanting to see Andre Braugher but now am finding Ray Romano (or at least Joe) to be the one whose story I really want to see.
And this episode hit it perfectly.

debbie said...

Take it from one who knows,dating and sex in middle age can be embarrasing.

But that was a fun date and Joe is a fool if he doesnt go for a second date.:) She is much more appealing than he wife.

Pamela Jaye said...

Despite a massive lack of Scott (though the bench pressing scene was good) I liked the ep. I loved that Dori was into honesty and Joe could and did tell her the truth in the end. I loved Owen and Melisa.

I look forward to more Scott.

I never watched Raymond (the closest I got was half an ep before Scott's 1996 series, and I ended up fixing the tub instead) so I wouldn't know about the physical comedy, but...

and I just liked Dori a lot. If she doesn't turn out to be "a relationship" she's really amazingly good "training wheels" for (re)new daters.
And the basketball was cool. I'm not into basketball but really, what woman tosses a game of basketball into a date after dinner? Way to break the ice!
Lotsa first dates on the shows I watched tonight.
Some went better than others.

Monica said...

I am cringing through this episode (watching on the West Coast). It must hit a little too close to my own dorky neuroses about dating or something. I had to check into here to see what the consensus was because I was ready to bail. But if you all think it was great, I'll try to get through it.

david said...

Very funny episode as this hit home on all the awkwardness of 40-something blind dates. Romano's best work so far in this series.

LA said...

That was spectacular. I had a grin on my face the whole way through. I love the way these guys chide each other.

Although, gentlemen, please tell me, men don't engage in post-mortems like that, do they? Do they?

A.J. said...

I feared this episode would be cringeworthy as it began -- a freakin' black eye??? -- but this show just keeps getting better, and I enjoyed every nuanced layer of it.
Perfect balance of little bits of humor, very real neurosis that never got sticky, a date that anyone could relate to, and the final subtitled line a stunningly small but perfect touch.
...I too would like to see more Bakula (he's got the underwritten, lousy role, which isn't right), and the ever awesome Braugher, but Romano is a real surprise; glad he's left his Ray shtick behind.

Trilby said...

OK, I missed something about why Joe jumped up and ran into the bathroom. And I also must have turned away right as he got the black eye, but I recorded the show so maybe I can catch up. And the bit about "let me look at you"? I missed something obviously.

Wanted to say, Maria is hysterical with her perfectly smooth impassive face. And the African-American kid in Joe's store with the 1000 watt smile, he's adorable. And the character of Owen's wife is perfect for injecting a bit of the female perspective without hijacking the show from the men. She's great. Loved her since that legal show she was on, the name escapes me now....

But if you think dating in your 40s is awkward, your 50s? Much worse. Almost hopeless.

Trilby said...

Also, forgot to say, the Dori character was much more interesting than you'd get on a show like this, usually. For a while I was waiting for her to turn really psychotic. But no, she was just a real person with flaws, a little too forth-coming maybe, like some real people. It was refreshing.

Bryan said...

terrific, funny, wonderful ep. These 3 actors work so well together it's as if they've been together for years- what chemistry they have.

Okay Tribly since Alan's not going to tackle this let me try. You obviously have cable or satellite tv so you've probably seen those commercials with couples talking about lovemaking and how there are products that make the lovemaking last longer - well Joe didn't take one of those pills. As he said he hadn't had a date in many years and he was "overly excited". Terry's advice to stop and lock at the woman didn't help because men are easily visually stimulated and to see a half naked beatiful woman on top would not help. He needed to think of baseball or famous American serial killers or something. Anyway, he jumped up off the couch because he was "losing the battle" so to speak.

Does that help?

Anonymous said...

This was the best episode yet... had my husband and I laughing out loud throughout. Love the setup, with Joe telling the story and the guys waiting to hear it all.

JanieJones said...

I thought it was another great episode. The comedy was finely tuned. Joe jumping off the couch, hitting his head because of the problem felt true as he had not dated in 20 years. I also liked the actress who played Dori.
*Bryan-the movie, Singles (I don't know if you ever saw it), came to mind where Kyra Sedgwick and Campbell Scott are *getting close* and Scott's character is thinking about a famous basketball player to prolong the experience.

I also took note that Joe came to Albert's rescue when he felt that he could not bat.

Colleen said...

I loved this episode. So fun to watch the three of them sitting in a booth, talking it over. Ray Romano is doing such good work on this show. I have to admit, I didn't have high expectations for his acting ability but he's surprising me.

Also really loved the subtitled callback to the pants down situation. I figured we'd never really find out, and I was engrossed in the rest of the goings-on in the ep, that when it was resolved at the very end, I just laughed out loud.

Great show. I can't wait to see more.

Anonymous said...

I still like the show, but Joe's over analyzing and obsessing can be a bit too much. I thought that way in previous episode's but it was very apparent in this one. He's borderline psychotic and one step away from a mental institution. I find it a bit much. I don't think he's supposed to be this troubled, but they just keep hitting us over the head with it. I get it. He's a bit messed up. But if it's really as bad as they've showed, perhaps he should be in an institution.

The way he was looking at that girl who gave him the CD after the pants incident was more scary than funny. It looked like he might attack her at any moment. She should have run for her life. Her reactions obviously tell us it wasn't meant to play out that way, but that's the impression I got from seeing Joe's expressions at her - creepy.

Wordnerd said...

Best episode this season, in my opinion. Any show that can evoke the cringe AND the laugh-out-loud has my vote! Incredibly honest, real portrayals of people my age -- for once!

(Still laugh every time I think of the cashier's last line - subtitled for us - what a payoff!)

A.J. said...

@ Janie Jones: Joe didn't come to his son's rescue, that was him stunting the kid's growth by passing on his neurotic inability to 'just do it', as Terry kept suggesting to turn off his analytic mind, he needed to teach the kid to try w/out fear of failing, or getting hit with the ball. Any advice that got that kid batting would've been good advice, he handed him fear....
Interesting that he did the same nonsense with a 'leg cramp', but the woman saved him from himself, she was a lot nicer than I would've been, Joe was acting like a big emotional black hole...
But that's why I'm liking this show, no fake resolutions or bogus relationships, these people are real, and flawed, but fun to be around....kinda like my friends...

Kianna said...

to see a moment like that pulled off in a more subdued, realistic setting, without feeling like it doesn't belong is impressive.

I felt exactly the opposite. That moment felt forced, insincere, like a scene from ELR was wedged into the script. It yanked me right out of the moment and pissed me off. ...which, I guess, is exactly how Dori felt. And like her, by the end of the night I understood why Joe did what he did, and it was weird (not a little weird, but straight-up weird) but I could look past it.

Other things: agree with the love for Dori, hopefully we'll see a lot more of her. Found Carlos' butchering of "Thufferin' thuccotash!" to be ridiculously over the top, but it was redeemed with Joe being wholly unable to pronounce quinceaƱera. There were dozens of other things that I loved, but what surprises me is how much I wanted Joe to not screw this up, to not shut Dori out or push her away. I'm not used to caring about TV characters this quickly, or this much.

Kensington said...

One thing I've noticed over the last couple of weeks is that characters on Men of A Certain Age are dropping a lot more S-bombs than I would expect from even a basic cable channel.

Is this a new development in non-premium cable television, or have I just been missing it before now?

Kensington said...

Oh yeah, and I hope we'll be seeing more of Sarah Clarke. She's charming and funny and sexy as hell.

Anonymous said...

So far I've felt this show had been good enough to keep watching but nothing spectacular, and each week I get sort of more drawn in. I was reaching the point of saying "wait, do I actually like this show or am I just watching it because it's on?" This episode pushed me over the top. I legitimately enjoy this show.

Anonymous said...

i really enjoyed this episode, despite not expecting to like a joe storyline. i was a little surprised that they got a 37 yr old actress, guess they couldn't get a 40-something one to play the role?

Matthew said...

i laughed my ass off. nuff said. I'm in (but thn i was in from the terry ep)

Jim said...

The stunned / bemused looks on the guys faces after Joe told them of his escape into the bathroom was damn near perfect.

Owen's follow up of "We're gonna need some more coffee over here", was so funny I got a leg cramp.

M.A.Peel said...

Owen's follow up of "We're gonna need some more coffee over here", was so funny I got a leg cramp.

Jim that was my favorite little moment too.

The soundtrack is just killing me. Songs I NEVER expected to hear again, but just a few beats in and the whole thing just comes flooding back.

Sam said...

One thing I've noticed over the last couple of weeks is that characters on Men of A Certain Age are dropping a lot more S-bombs than I would expect from even a basic cable channel.

Watch "Saving Grace" or "The Shield" sometime. It's everything except the F-word in much greater quantity than this show.

Dish Network said...

The show is really funny and I love black eyed Joe.

HautieTx said...

The show has really gotten better at telling a story.

I loved the whole panic moment of Joe's with Dori on the couch. So real and just funny.

He wanted to be so cool and in control and ended up freaking out.

Then hid in the bathroom. Priceless.

I love how the girl that works in the store, explained how happy she was that he finally found a girl to date in Spanish to the other worker.

Cause Joe would have stroked to realize she had notice the missing pants.

Trilby said...

@Anon 4:50-- A 37-yo actress was about right, I figure. Men are allowed to date down (in age and other ways) and often date way down. Right? I am older than Joe, a woman, and newly single. Woe is me! I am thinking of asking my 83-YO DAD if he has any single friends for me. As Owen's wife said, Joe has a lot going for him, objectively, in the dating pool: full head of hair, no gut, and owns his own business. Why should he have to date a woman as old as, say, his ex-wife? Men don't roll like that! (Sorry, a little personal bitterness coming through... heh heh)

And thanks to the poster who explained Joe's premature, um, problem to me.

dez said...

Cause Joe would have stroked to realize she had notice the missing pants.

I'm still laughing about that one line. That, and realizing why the other co-worker (whose name I'm blanking on) was so smiley throughout the ep. Heh heh heh!

Pamela Jaye said...

but what surprises me is how much I wanted Joe to not screw this up, to not shut Dori out or push her away.

me too, now that you mention it. I'm surprised I *can* care about Ray that much.

Tracey said...

My favorite line was the subtitled one at the end. I think what really made that line for me was, it hit me that it didn't really matter whether she saw his pants down or not -- she had figured out what was going on (or thought she had) just from the panicked look on his face and the way he refused to get out from behind the table.

I'm liking this series for the most part, but I'm finding some of the neuroses a bit grating. I was OK with the son's fear of getting on a bus -- it was a bit familiar, I had a similar phobia for a while when I was about 10. But if he's going to freak out about every little thing... it gets annoying. I also sometimes feel like they're writing these guys as 60 instead of 50. The whole business where they didn't know about instant messaging seemed a bit off to me, and I'm close enough to that age -- 44. The cultural references sometimes feel like they're written by 30-year-olds who think they know about 50-year-olds. An interesting contrast to Psych, where it seems like it's written by 40-somethings who keep putting their cultural references into the mouths of 30-year-olds who wouldn't know them.

Lauren said...

Alan, with all due respect I strongly disagree with you and everybody else who liked this episode.

I found this to be far and away the worst episode of the show. It was television at its worst. Piffle from beginning to end. It advanced no story. It was trite and lame. Where do I begin?

The extended sequence with Joe and the whole pants situation was annoying from beginning to end. The lame jokes were not what I consider good television. The constant pauses were infuriating. Three men sitting in a diner for the entire episode was outright boring and the date itself was slower than molasses. To put it bluntly this episode was boring.

Don't get me wrong. You can do an episode with little to no action but still be exciting. Homicide did it best with Three Men and Adena, the interrogation episode. That episode was not boring because that episode had energy and passion.

Sons of Anarchy has set a golden standard for me. I hated this episode because as I was watching basically nothing happen, I kept thinking that Sons of Anarchy would never allow this. The other episodes were much better because they actually moved story along. Like Owen finding out about Joe's ex-wife at the reunion and calling her on it. Or Owen having to move in with his father. After Mondays horrendous episode I am seriously reconsidering this show, and whether it really is prepared to sit at the same mantle as gripping shows like Mad Men and Sons of Anarchy.

Henry said...

Yeah I really liked this episode. It didn't drag like the episodes that have aired so far. The way Joe tells the story to Owen and Terry and the little nuances in the story (like how both Owen and Terry wanted in on the small parts) was charming. And I'm glad you told us who played Dori 'cause I wanted to know who it was and if she was gonna be around for more.

Henry said...

Oh! And it's a good thing the black eye didn't come from something bad! Just an accident.

Pamela Jaye said...

So excited to hear from multiple sources at the TCA that MOCA has been picked up for a second 10-episode season!

Mike F said...

this has turned out to be a great little show featuring a whole cast of actors letting the game come to them...credit to the director and writers also for the show feeling so gosh darn real

PoppaMike said...

SUCH a fun show. Was expecting a sit-com, but has some grea development.

Sarah Clarke added to the last episode was just yummy, too!

A great drama. :>