Joe, Owen, and Terry try to hack it in new roles in the season-two premiere. Blogger Jordan Pedersen guides us through.
TNT’s Men of a Certain Age is about us: men trying to sort out what it means to be a good man in a changing world as age sets in and the trade-offs of work, family, and friends become even more complex. The three men on the show are ultimately attempting to do the little things in life right, no matter how confusing that might be. And for that alone, the show’s worth discussing—not to mention it’s touching and funny as hell.
9:55: Hi all and welcome to the live blog. Grab a drink and kick back—we’ll be rolling in about five minutes.
10:20: Let’s give some background: Season 1 ended with Joe (Ray Romano) realizing that he may have a shot at the PGA Senior Tour. The season two opening sequence, set to Simon & Garfunkel’s “El Condor Pasa,” cuts between Joe on the driving range and Owen (Andre Braugher), who operates his family car dealership, getting ready for the workday. A really evocative way to open a season.
The local divorcees can either smell success or Joe’s recent breakup with Sonia, because they’re all over him.
Now we’re getting back to the meat and potatoes of the first season: the breakfast scene. Terry (Scott Bakula) seems really excited about his sales job at Owen’s dealership, but his leaving to schtup the waitress certainly isn’t a good sign. We get some great chatter; the producers really have put together a terrific cast with some real chemistry. Choice quote: “I know I don’t have a glasses head.” Ray Romano’s pissiness is great.
Simon & Garfunkel, the Beach Boys, Papillon: I love that it’s a totally different world of pop-culture references from what we’re accustomed to on television.
The scene where Terry confronts Owen about “not being right for the job” is pitch-perfect. We’ve all had that friend who follows his heart (or his gut), even when it makes him look like a flake. Bakula’s earnestness and Braugher’s cheerful resignation are fantastically sad.
10:30: Romano kills it in the lunch scene with the hot divorcee. It’s like we’re right there with him—especially for the quick, tantalizing shots of his date’s “washboard stomach” and legs. And it’s a testament to Romano’s skill as an actor that it’s not the least bit implausible that he could squire the girl upstairs for a nooner. Seeing him overcome his moment of doubt and get to ravishing her is magnificent. “Put the glasses back on”—yowza.
Owen’s lunch with Marcus is pretty crushing. Owen continues to be a real sad sack, and Marcus (Brian J. White) remains an utterly hateful prick. But Owen redeems himself a couple of scenes later, when he smokes a local Volvo owner in a street race. This, incidentally, is an excellently choreographed scene. We’re expecting yet another example of Owen’s haplessness, but it morphs into a great moment of redemption for the guy.
10:50: We’ve seen Joe’s and Owen’s reversals; Terry’s comes right on schedule. He gets an awkward (but truly motivating) pep talk from Owen Sr. (Richard Gant) about how Terry ought to be really good at this stuff. He goes out and sells a car immediately, but the customer turns out to be an easy mark: he’s the son of a friend of Owen Sr.’s. Bakula’s boyishness makes this scene work.
The second season premiere ended up fitting perfectly with its title: “If I could, I surely would,” a quote from the track that opens the episode. We’ve got three middle-aged men, hamstrung by their own expectations and disappointments. At this point in the show, though, the Men are coping with success rather than failure: they’ve been screw-ups for so long that they’re wary of even trying. But they all managed to surmount their own reservations this week. (Or just mount them.)
Men of a Certain Age could have been mere wish fulfillment for its 40-something audience, a hackneyed montage of gray-hairs sleeping with women half their age. They do that a bit, but it’s not necessarily the behavior we want to see. Instead, creators Romano and Mike Royce have crafted a nuanced look at middle age for three very real guys. Their struggles manage to be relatable without seeming mundane, and their victories are hard-fought and all the more satisfying for it.
We want to know what you think of tonight’s premiere. Where do you think the creators are taking the show? And most importantly, what happens to a show about the struggles of middle-aged men when they start succeeding?
—Image via Collider.com