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'Men of a Certain Age' recap: We're done making bogeys

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By the end of the season finale of TNT's "Men of a Certain Age," Joe, Terry and Owen are walking down new paths. While all are on the right road, none took the route that a GPS would have suggested.

That's to be expected, as nothing ever comes easy for these guys. Whether it is Joe (Ray Romano) trying to make another run at the glory that eluded him in his youth, Terry (Scott Bakula) wondering if growing up is all it's cracked up to be or Owen (Andre Braugher) seeking to come to terms with his father, "Men of a Certain Age" excels at capturing the daily struggles of life. It doesn't always make for an upbeat hour, but there are plenty of little laughs and triumphant moments along the way, as was the case last night.

For Joe, triumph means getting his golf groove back. That doesn't seem like it will be a problem as he gets off to a strong start in a tourament that could make him elgibile for the senior's tour.

Complications arise, though, when his son and caddy, Albert, realizes that not only did he leave a key club in the trunk, he has too many clubs in the bag. Joe informs the officials and has to take a two-stroke penalty, and then he struggles to get the momentum back while Albert feels tremendously guilty about his goof. 

Meanwhile, Terry's wanderlust has returned. Although he's a natural at selling cars at Owen's dealership, his stint directing commercials for Thoreau Chevrolet has reawakened his creative juices.

Owen, however doesn't see it that way. "You got a good thing going on here … you’re getting comfortable, but because you’ve been uncomfortable for so long, that actually feels wrong to you," he tells Terry to no avail.

Erin, Terry's new live-in girlfriend, is also taken aback by his news. Part of Terry's appeal to her was that, like her,  he'd moved on from entertainment. She's now panicked that he's not going to be Mr. Reliable after all. She'd bolt if she had a place to bolt to, but, alas, she's already given up her apartment. He assures her he'll try directing for a year and if it doesn't work he'll go back to selling cars.

But where will he sell those cars at? The tension between Owen and his dad is getting more intense by the minute. Already annoyed with the cheesy new TV ads, Owen Sr. blasts his son's idea of offering free carwashes to get customers onto the lot and then gets visibly upset when Owen airs some of the dirty laundry regarding the health of the business. Things come to a boiling point when an annoying customer trying to abuse the free carwashes starts to wage a protest in front of the shop. Owen tries to make peace with customer, but his father takes a more aggressive approach and sends the jerk packing.

Owen, upset by the whole fiasco, wonders who his dad is trying to hurt — the customer or him. Owen Sr. meanwhile, realizes that the rest of the sales force is behind his son, not him, and storms off. He's last seen walking onto the lot of chief competitor Scarpulla, who has been looking to buy out Thoreau.

The idea that his father would sell the dealership out from under him rather than step back and let him run it as promised pushes Owen to the brink. "I'm sweating blood to get us out of the hole you dug," he snaps, adding that his father is "one pathetic old man." Recognizing that he can kiss his relationship with his son goodbye if he sells, Owen Sr. relents, and the two finally seem to have made peace.

Unlike Terry and Owen, Joe doesn't have to battle with the significant others in his life. He's got Albert caddying and is using balls that his daughter Lucy made for him. Realizing that now is not the time to play it safe, Joe takes some gambles on the course and, before too long, he's overcoming his penalty and is on the verge of finishing in the top five, which would clear the way for a senior tour comeback effort.

Alas, Joe blows the last shot and seems doomed. But then Mother Nature intervenes. A storm hits and the older golfers have trouble adjusting to the weather and start missing shots. Joe and his kids venture back out onto the course to watch and huddle together to celebrate when Joe ends up backing into the fifth spot. He's feeling so confident that later that night he calls Dory to lay the ground work for a second chance.

Not every show can be a breakout hit, and it is silly to think that a program about three middle-aged men trying to age gracefully would have mass appeal. TNT has lots of big hits, but few that get the critical acclaim of "Men of a Certain Age."  Hopefully TNT will recognize it has something special here and will keep "Men of a Certain Age" around for another season.

If in fact Wednesday's episode turns out to be a series finale and not just a season finale, the creators and producers can walk off with their heads held high for making a show about what Henry David Thoreau described as the "quiet desperation" that fills the lives of most men.

— Joe Flint

Photo: The men chow down, hopefully not for the  last time. Credit: Danny Feld/TNT.

 

 
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