MELBOURNE, Victoria / The Age / Executive Style / May 4, 2010
All Men are Liars
Men of a Certain Age
While it's a little premature - the show is yet to air in Australia - there is hope a comin' and it's being delivered from an entirely unexpected quarter - Ray Romano, the US comedian best known for his work on the sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond ...
Romano's latest venture is an hour-long comedy drama airing on TNT in the US. It's called Men of a Certain Age and, what's really surprising, is that it's superb television.
Though I'd never encourage readers to download illegally via peer-to-peer software ... ahem ... until Channel Nine (which I believe owns the rights to the series) decides to air it, this might be the only way you can see the show, unless you buy the DVDs in the US.
Joe (Romano) is a slightly neurotic separated father of two who is regularly told he's a little weird. He owns a party supply store, has a gambling addiction and is far less annoying than Romano's former sitcom persona.
Terry (Scott Bakula from Quantum Leap) is a New-Agey actor, who smokes dope, works temp jobs and bangs everything that moves, usually much younger women.
US critics were just as surprised as I was by the show's quality with the Los Angeles Times saying it was "a miraculously good show about a stage of life that is too often either ignored or overplayed".
And The Washington Post says it "proves a powerful yet mercifully amusing experience - bittersweet, poignant and wise. It's not just a series, but something of a tonic".
Mostly the show is about finding dignity in your day-to-day life and the characters are so well drawn, written and acted that you often feel you're a fly on the wall watching three real friends' lunchtime chatter.
The thing I like most about Men of a Certain Age, though, is that the men are all kind, without being sops or saccharine, and they all have very real failings you feel could bring them undone any tick of the clock.
And you don't have to be 40 to enjoy the show - I think young guys will enjoy it just as much, and can certainly imbibe the wisdom of taking their chances when they get them.
Until that time, keep an eye out for Men of a Certain Age. [rc]
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