In the now classic comedy Everyone Loves Raymond, Ray Romano was quirky and funny, even a little buffoonish. For many people he was easy to relate to with his various family problems, whether they were with his wife, or his parents, or his brother.
In TNT’s new series, Men of a Certain Age, Romano plays a much more mature character coming to terms with where he finds himself at this very particular crossroad of his life. His new character is still easy to relate to, but perhaps just for a smaller segment of the audience.
In the pilot episode, which premiers on TNT December 7th at 10 PM, we meet Romano’s character, Joe, a party store owner, as well as his two best friends, Owen, (Andre Braugher, Homicide: Life on the Street) and Terry (Scott Bakula, Quantum Leap, Star Trek). Owen works for his father in a car dealership and Terry is a part-time actor who still acts like he’s in college. Together and apart, the three of them face the challenges of growing older, facing their mid-life head on and trying to be the best friends they can be during some trying times.
It is humorous as it is insightful. In one scene, the three of them are driving down the road and they run over a possum. Joe starts to have very guilty feelings about possibly leaving the animal wounded, but not dead, so he backs up over him, then runs over him again. Feeling much better about his decision, they continue down the road, only to look in the rear view mirror to see the possum get up and scamper off.
In another scene later in the episode, the three friends are sitting in a diner having lunch (you can’t help but get the feeling that much of the show is going to take place in this diner) and Joe comments that he feels he’s getting older. Even reading the ketchup bottle is a challenge. And now, looking in the mirror, there’s just a small piece of himself that isn’t recognizable anymore. It’s lines like that that will have every male viewer from the age of 40 and older shaking their heads in agreement, and have every male viewer under the age of 40 wondering when the change is going to start for them.
Although Romano is the co-writer, it appears that Bakula and Braugher will have equal time on screen. If the pilot is any indication, this show will be about the lives of all three of them.
We’ve already been introduced to Owen’s problems at work. The idea of a grown man having to work for his father and trying to live up to an already solid reputation will not be a foreign one to many viewers. We really see both Owen’s internal conflict, as well as the conflict he has with his father, start to built when he can’t close a sale and his father puts a younger, more enthusiastic salesman on to close. There is little doubt that this is going to be the main theme for Owen throughout the show, at least in the beginning.
With Terry, we see a guy who although is in his mid to late 40’s, still is a womanizer and still refusing to take work seriously. He saunters into his daytime job at 12:30, and his boss kowtows to him, telling him that noon is pushing it, but 12:30 is really pushing it. And then he practically begs Terry for a set of spreadsheets that he was supposed to do. Terry totally blows him off, and leaves, even though he just got there.
All three main characters are fine actors in their own right, and together create a whole new dynamic that is totally unexpected. Romano being serious, Braugher being humorous, Bakula being both at the same time.
While Men of a Certain Age has the ability to instantly and easily appeal to a very specific audience, that being men between 40-60 (I refuse to call that “middle-age”), it also has the ability to appeal to a much wider audience if given the opportunity.
As a man of a certain age, I can tell you that I’m looking forward to seeing more of this show.
Preview provided to TMR Zoo by YouCast.