A drama-comedy about men at age 50 is probably going to be a hard sell for most TV viewers. They want spark. They want pep. They want energy.
They aren’t too interested in going bald, spare tires and Viagra jokes unless it’s packaged as a sitcom, and yet somehow, TNT’s “Men of a Certain Age” works.
The new show, which stars Ray Romano, Scott Bakula and Andre Braugher and debuts Monday at 10 p.m. on TNT, doesn’t dwell on the little things that a sitcom would — and yes, it is mercifully free of jokes about erectile dysfunction.
Instead, it tries to carve out its own place and show the trials, no matter how trivial, of being on what may — or may not — be the downward slope of life.
The show focuses on three characters:
- Joe (Romano) is a recently separated husband and owner of a party-supply store. He’s struggling with a gambling addiction and often grapples with his own neurosis as he tries to restart his life.
- Owen (Braugher) is a car salesman with a loving wife and two slightly hyper kids. His problem? His father, who also happens to be his boss, doesn’t feel his son has ever measured up.
- Terry (Bakula) seems to be happy with his bachelor lifestyle, but his acting career is at a standstill and he’s merely a part-time yoga instructor and office temp.
Through the first few episodes of the series, viewers see their lives through marginally connected stories. The guys trod through their life where sometimes they end up the winners and sometimes they look like dopes in desperate need of their wives’ motherly guidance.
While the pilot episode is a bit of a snooze, the follow-up episodes dig deep into the characters, especially Romano’s Joe, whose gambling habit snapped his marriage in two but allowed his personal relationship with his bookie to flourish.
Romano, by the way, is the creator and one of the show’s writers in a fairly bold step from his familiar “Everybody Loves Raymond” persona.
While “Men” isn’t cutesy black humor a la “Desperate Housewives,” it is comparable to that show in the sense that all the main characters from both shows seem to be asking the same question: “Now what?”
I, for one, have been eager to see just how that will be answered.