Yesterday I received a sneak peak video of Men Of A Certain Age, premiering December 7 on TNT. The series follows the bonds of friendship between three college friends ? Joe, Owen and Terry ? who are now in their 40s. Joe (Ray Romano) is a slightly neurotic divorced father of two who hoped to become a pro golfer but now owns a party store. Owen (Andre Braugher) is an overstressed husband and father, who is a car salesman at his dad’s dealership. Terry (Scott Bakula of Quantum Leap fame) is a struggling actor dating a much younger woman.
I was a big fan of Ray Romano’s previous show, Everybody Loves Raymond. So I was very curious how Romano would pull off another show where he is a middle aged slightly neurotic father.
Actors from successful sitcoms have a hard time breaking away from their well known roles. See all the actors from Seinfeld or Friends as examples. Sure, Jennifer Aniston was able to establish a different identity in movies, but not in another television show. Have you seen Courteney Cox in Cougar Town? I rest my case.
After just a few minutes of the pilot, I was surprised how well Romano was able to make himself into a different character. I didn’t feel I was watching Ray Barone. Part of this could have been that he has aged since Everybody Loves Raymond went off the air in 2005. He looks older.
The other reason is because the show is not a sitcom. It’s billed as a comedy-drama but I’d put it as more drama than comedy. There were a few trademark Romano chuckles as he pokes fun at himself or his two buddies. But I get the sense these characters will have dramatic scenes sprinkled with just a few comedy one liners. I kept expecting the jokes to come but most of the scenes were serious dialog.
If the goal of the show is to make viewers feel the despair and tediousness of a man struggling with middle age, then it succeeds.? You can meet the characters and judge for yourself.? I’ll probably give the show a try for an episode or two, if only because I am such a fan of Ray Romano.