`Men of a Certain Age' recap: "I'm not explaining it the right way."
Joe is starting to realize there is a certain charm to his awkwardness. Not only is he still sleepover pals with Michelle, whose hectic travel schedule makes her the perfect friend with benefits for the gun shy Joe, he also manages to woo Bonnie, a customer at his party shop.
"In what world are you dating two women," Owen wonders when he, Joe and Terry are chowing down at Norm's.
Worried that he won't be able to navigate these potentially treacherous waters, Joe asks Terry -- the resident expert on women, or at least womanizing -- for tips. Terry passes on a few key phrases for Joe to use that will keep things loose including the classic: "We don't have to define things right away."
Not defining things right away is one of the hallmarks of "Men of a Certain Age." In this, the third episode of the TNT drama's second season, all three characters find themselves examining who they are in relation to those around them -- family, friends and lovers. It's not always a pretty picture.
Terry, who is still finding his way at Owen's car dealership, has a little hot streak going and gets himself into a bet with Marcus to see who can sell the most cars for the week. Terry immediately realizes he has bitten off more than he can chew. Marcus, of course, has been at this for years and has a list of clients as long as Terry's list of ex-girlfriends.
It isn't long before Terry starts calling those ex-girlfriends to see if any are in the market for a new Chevy. It does not go well. One observes that Terry is the perfect car salesman because who is better to sell you something that will likely break down in six months and leave you worse off than you were before.
The only fish Terry manages to hook is Dave, his over-friendly boss from last season at the accounting firm where he was a temp. Dave (Michael Hitchcock), who tries really hard to be cool but is a nerd at heart, is hurting because his wife has left him. Grateful for Terry's call, he wants to hit the town with Terry to chase women while Terry just wants to sucker him into a new Corvette.
After hustling Dave into buying the car, Terry go out to dinner with him, and Dave awkwardly hits on the waitress -- then realizes that divorces are expensive and he better watch his cash. He has Terry drive him to what Terry thinks is his home but is really the home of the guy who stole his wife. Dave relieves himself on his rival's garden and then tries to smash his statue of Humpty Dumpty, which, ironically, doesn't break. "You think of all the things," Terry mutters. Before the two race off, Terry steals Humpty for Dave so that his night wasn't a total wash.
Terry's story was basically the comic relief of the night. The more somber plots belonged to Owen and Joe.
Owen is still struggling to come out from under his dad's formidable shadow. While Owen Sr. has turned the dealership over to Owen Jr., he's still hanging out and using the office. "Watch and learn son," Owen Sr. cracks after taking over a business meeting his son was conducting.
Hoping to enjoy a quiet day off, Owen gets dragged by his wife and kids to a publicity event for a community center that Owen Sr., a former Laker, is appearing at with some other ex-players. There Owen sees his father in a new light. Never a big star even in his prime, few are now lining up to get his autograph. It's one of those moments when a son no longer feels intimidated by his father, but actually sorry for him.
"Today he seemed so small," Owen says to his wife, Melissa.
Owen realizes how his dad may be having a hard time letting go of running the dealership because it is the last place where he gets to be the big dog. Wanting to take his relationship with his father to the next level, Owen tells him that maybe it's a good thing he still comes to the shop.
It backfires of course. Owen Sr. snaps that he doesn't need his son's charity and storms out, leaving Owen wondering if he'll ever figure out how to make his father happy.
Joe, meanwhile, is trying to figure out how to keep two women happy. He ignores an invitation from the no frills Michelle to go out on a date with Bonnie. The two are hitting it off and Joe is feeling torn. The next day he goes to pick up his son Albert at school and sees Bonnie's kid struggling to carry his science project. Joe helps him set it up when Bonnie shows up.
That doesn't go so well as Bonnie lets Joe know that she is concerned about her son getting attached to guys who then disappear. Joe says he gets it so he leaves. He does so without saying goodbye to her kid, which seemed a little out of character for Joe, who is nothing if not considerate. One wonders if the scene might have rung even truer if he had asked if he could say goodbye or had just done so on his own. Otherwise, he's just doing what Bonnie said she fears, even though in this case he was following her orders.
Joe, now a little confused, makes the bonehead move of taking Terry's advice on his next date with Bonnie. Rather than have a discussion on what each is thinking about dating and relationships, over dinner or at the end of their date, he has the talk on her doorstep while picking her up. No woman wants to hear that there is no reason to define things yet -- right before she's going out on a date. Joe keeps digging himself into a hole, all but telling Bonnie he's not relationship material and she responds by closing the door on his face.
Unlike the upbeat tone of the first two episodes of the season, Episode 3 was a bit of a downer. Creators Ray Romano and Mike Royce are expert at zooming in on life's little victories and its defeats. The good thing is they make even the depressing parts of growing old watchable.
-- Joe Flint
Photo: Joe (Ray Romano) makes his move on Bonnie (Jessica Tuck). Credit: TNT.