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Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Men of a Certain Age: The Great Escape

Scott Bakula (Terry), Ray Romano (Joe) and
Andre Braugher (Owen)
(Photo Credit: 
Danny Feld)
“Men of a Certain Age,” starring Ray Romano, Scott Bakula and Andre Braugher returns to the air tonight to begin showing the final six episodes of season two. TNT sent me an advance copy of those episodes and I can’t think of a series I’d rather blog through more than this one. Hope you enjoy it. 

This episode, “The Great Escape,” opens with a series of uncomfortable situations – from Joe’s kids climbing into the car to tell him his ex-wife, Sonia, might be going through “the change,” to Terry bumping into Annie, an old girlfriend whom he refers to as a fling, while he is with Erin, his current girlfriend, to Owen getting a visit from a rival car dealership bigwig who knows more than he should.

One of things I love about this show is, it finds a comfortable balance between characters who are reacting to what is going on around them while at the same time, stumbling through life in a pro-active way, toward their goals.

Joe’s ex isn’t going through the change and when he finds out what she is going through, it peaks his interest in her again. Terry isn’t tempted to go back to Annie, even though that’s what the old Terry would do. Instead he finally allows himself to be vulnerable with a woman and wisely, she gives him the room to begin growing into the man he wants to become. But there’s an obstacle in their way that may be difficult to overcome. And Owen wonders if the offer from his rival might be his ticket out from under his dad’s thumb once and for all.

As usual, this episode contains some great dialogue. There’s one scene, in which Terry cooks dinner for Erin in her apartment and she wonders how he is able to cook so well.

“The secret,” he says, “is to become an actor, and then never get work.”

Erin laughs.

“And then, you know, you’ve got to let that simmer for about 30 years, and that gives you time to develop, you know, all sorts of hobbies – like, you know, cooking.

Erin takes a drink from her wine glass and looks at him as if she both admires his self-deprecation as well as the tenacity he showed to stick with his acting dream for so long. “Unemployment is the key,” she says, playing along.

“Yeah, but, you got to stick to it,” he says.

They get interrupted by Erin’s cat, Ted – an orange tabby who rubs up against Terry’s leg, which probably paints an even clearer picture of what domesticated life might look like if he continues along this path with Erin, but that turns out to be the least of his worries.

Given that five episodes remain in the season, there isn’t a lot of resolution to any of these conflicts in this episode. Instead, we encounter real middle aged characters who still don’t have all the answers. From the outside, they look tragically flawed. But once you get to know them, they look beautifully flawed.

If you missed my interview with "Men of a Certain Age" co-creator Mike Royce back in January, here's a link.


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