Category: Men of a Certain Age

TCA Press Tour 2011: Ray Romano gets kissed off by his wife [Updated]

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Day two of the Television Press Tour was barely underway before Ray Romano delivered one of the best lines of the day.

Romano, the star of the long-running hit "Everybody Loves Raymond," was promoting the second season of TNT's "Men of a Certain Age," which started this month. The series, which follows three close male friends dealing with midlife crises, was a critical hit for the network.

[For the record: An earlier version of this report incorrectly said the second season of "Men of a Certain Age" would begin this summer.]

One reporter asked Romano about the appeal his current series might have for women.

Said Romano, "Every time my wife sees me in a kissing scene, she says, 'This is ... We have enough money.' "

-- Greg Braxton

Photo: Ray Romano and Scott Bakula at TCA. Credit: Chris Pizzello/AP.

'Men of a Certain Age' recap: Go hug it out or something

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There's tension at Thoreau Chevrolet. Once again the services guys, headed by Jesse (Patrick Gallagher) are at odds with the sales team. The mechanics think the salesmen are prima donnas and the salesmen think the service guys are there to, well, serve them.

Looking to bring peace, Owen (Andre Braugher) calls a meeting and tries to deliver a Knute Rockne-like speech. Everyone else out there -- rival dealers, soccer moms, the government, Toyota -- are enemies but Thoreau Chevrolet is family, he says. Sure, families have problems, but "underneath it all there's a whole lot of love."

He's met with blank stares until one of the service guys asks if they can go now.

"Just go hug it out or something," Owen tells his team.

The scene is both hilarious and telling. Owen wants people to give a damn for something other than themselves and he's met with apathy. There is no more us against them. It's every man for themselves.

Recognizing that the service guys feel like second-class citizens, Owen decides to open a body shop on the premises. He's happy. Jesse's happy. The sales guys are happy. But then, as usual, the dark cloud that is Owen's father shows up to kill the mood.

Turns out that Owen Sr. has not been completely truthful about the financial health of the dealership. A few years ago, he bought some land in Glendale to open a new dealership. The economy went south and the company got into a little trouble with the IRS and can't expand or make any additions until the government is paid back. Owen is devastated and feels betrayed by his father. His heart is broken when he has to suck it up and tell Jesse he's reneging on the plans without telling him why because he wants to protect his father's name and not worry his employees.

One employee Owen doesn't have to worry about is Terry (Scott Bakula). Starting to hit his stride as a car salesman, Terry has some cash in his hands and is excited about going to visit his brother to show that he's finally becoming an adult.

But Terry has a hard time being at ease with his kid brother Mark. He hasn't seen him in more than a year and like all aging siblings there often comes a time where keeping family relationships alive require work, not just blood. Mark is not necessarily buying that Terry has given up his dreams of stardom or his irresponsible ways. Terry gets annoyed when his efforts to pay back a loan are rebuffed.

Terry continues to be the most interesting character to watch. On the surface, he's just a laid-back and aging Lothario. A frustrated actor who uses anyone around him to get what he needs to get through the moment.

Underneath he's a philosopher and literature lover who can quote Camus. He has a temper that he struggles to rein in, and the last few years have brought him to a realization that he needs to change his ways or he'll end up lost.

While Owen deals with his work family and Terry tries to reconnect with his real family, Joe (Ray Romano) is forced into the role of a brother of sorts to his bookie Manfro (the wonderful Jon Manfrellotti), whom he learns is struggling with cancer. As much as Joe feels for Manfro, he is nervous about seeing his bookie so soon after trying to kick gambling. "I can't be around it," he tells Manfro's mother, who came to Joe's party supply store to persuade him to visit her son.

Joe, of course, does the right thing and visits Manfro, who is his usual twisted self. They discuss the odds of surviving cancer without getting the chemo. It is one of the more painful scenes in the show's brief history, which is what makes it so watchable. We've all visited people we don't really want to see because it is the right thing to do. And usually, after doing it we don't feel any better about it.

Family, in all its bizarre forms, was the theme running through this episode. We have work family. We have real family. We have awkward family. We don't get to pick them. They pick us. Or, to borrow a line from one of my favorite movies, "A family is like a gun. You point it in the wrong direction and you could kill someone."

-- Joe Flint

 Photo: Joe (Ray Romano), left, and Manfro (Jon Manfrellotti) bond over cancer and sports. Credit: TNT

'Men of a Certain Age' recap: I'm not the bad guy

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It wasn't a great week for Joe.

First, he and his wife Sonia are finally getting their divorce papers in order and Joe (Ray Romano) is reluctant to be the defendant. After all, technically his wife was having the affair. Even though it means nothing, it's gnawing at him.

But that's a pebble in the road compared to what happens next. Deciding to cut out of work for awhile, Joe comes home to discover his high school-age daughter Lucy and her boyfriend Sudheer using his pad as a love nest. The shattering of the image he had of his daughter is compounded when he notices some of his condoms missing. He tries to confront Lucy, who just wants to brush off the incident and move along with her life.

"Did you expect me to go to college a virgin?" she asks. Joe responds that he didn't lose his virginity until he was 22, which gets him sympathy from his daughter. That wasn't what he was looking for, so he grounds her and tells her she can't attend the family barbecue her mother is having that weekend.

This episode gave the underrated Romano a chance to shine. It's easy to dismiss his performance as just a variation of his character from "Everybody Loves Raymond," but that is shortchanging Romano. He is becoming a master at doing a lot with a little and more than holds his own with Andre Braugher and Scott Bakula. He conveys perfectly the frustrations of a father dealing with a daughter growing up too fast and an ex-wife moving on. If the producers are looking for an episode to submit for Emmy voters, this one should be on the short list.

As Joe deals with the official end of his marriage and the fact that his daughter is no longer a little girl, Terry (Bakula) is tempted to try acting again. When his agent comes in to the dealership, Terry's first instinct is to hide, until he has a revelation. "I'm embarrassed to be a salesman? He's an agent."

Turns out, his agent is not there to buy a car. A YouTube clip of the campy 1980s TV dinner ad Terry  did has gotten over a million hits, and there's interest in making a new ad with him and Erin, the woman who played his wife.

Initially, Terry is reluctant. "I'm really not interested in beefing up my sombrero reel," he tells his agent, a reference to one of the ads in which Terry is donning stereotypical Mexican garb. But then Terry changes his mind as he realizes it is a way for him to get closer to Erin and that it might jump-start his acting career.

Unfortunately, although the agency is excited to have Terry back, it doesn't  want to use Erin (Melinda McGraw), who had been reluctant to do the ad in the first place. In a scene all too real, Terry's agent tells him that the company and ad agency think Erin is too old, even though Terry looks a lot worse for wear and Erin is still a knockout. Aware that Erin got out of acting because of what it was doing to her self-confidence, Terry does the noble thing and bags the ad and tells Erin that because he threw a fit over the terms of the deal, the agency walked away. It was a lie, but a good lie.

He then tries to put the moves on Erin and she again reminds him that she doesn't date actors. "I'm not an actor anymore," Terry responds.

While Terry is coming to terms with his new career selling cars and Joe is trying to deal with the reality of both his divorce and his daughter having a sex life, Owen (Braugher) is still trying to crawl out of his dad's shadow. Attending an industry convention in Anaheim, Owen is once again upstaged by the old man.

If there was a weak plot in an otherwise fine hour, it was Owen's. While the dynamic between Owen and his father rings true, it also is getting a little tired and needs to be put to bed. Hopefully, the subplot of Owen's wife Melissa returning to work will lead to fresher story lines for his character.

-- Joe Flint

 Photo: Joe (Ray Romano) gets mad. Credit: Danny Feld

`Men of a Certain Age' recap: "I'm not explaining it the right way."

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

`Men of a Certain Age' recap: Terry's revenge

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Sometimes the mark of a good show is the strength of its secondary characters. When the writers can create strong plots and have solid actors for them, not only does it take some of the pressure off the leads, it also makes for more enriching stories.

A great bench has been one of the strengths of "Men of a Certain Age" all along, and in Monday's episode many of those players got a chance to really shine. Owen's wife, Melissa (played by Lisa Gay Hamilton), itching to get back into the job force, was given center stage a couple of times and delivered compelling scenes about a conflicted mother who wants to be there for her kids but also needs to feel more fulfilled. Jesse (Patrick Gallagher), the put-upon head mechanic of the car dealership Owen (Andre Braugher) is now running, is emerging as an excellent foil to both Owen and the flashy salesmen that Jesse resents. Also making the most of their time on the screen were Joe's kids Albert (Braeden Lemasters) and Lucy (Brittany Curran).

Of the three main characters, it was Scott Bakula's Terry who provided the comic relief for the night. Still struggling to adjust to being a car salesman, Terry endures a hazing from his colleagues including Marcus (Brian White) and Carl (the very amusing Eddie Shin), who find an old commercial Terry did on YouTube and mock him. The commercial, an ad for a TV dinner, shows a young Terry morphing into the ethnicity of whatever type of food is being cooked. The gang makes cardboard cutouts of Terry's characters from the ad and leave them around the showroom, making it tough for him to close a sale. One keeps expecting Terry, who always seems to be on the verge of boiling over, to smash things up, but he keeps his cool.

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'Men of a Certain Age' recap: Is there a smell I give off?

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Last year, TNT's "Men of a Certain Age" introduced us to three lifelong friends all in various stages of midlife crisis. They struggle with divorce, career frustrations, messed up kids, annoying and aging parents, feeling invisible and, of course, their own mortality.

For men over 40, "Men of a Certain Age" no doubt hit a nerve and seemed all too real at times. Perhaps with that in mind, it's not a surprise that this compelling show about three men trying to keep it together as they inch closer to 50 found its biggest audience was women. Maybe they were looking for clues in the psyche of the middle-aged man.

All three characters are engaging. Joe, played by the show's co-creator Ray Romano, has split from his wife. Once a promising golfer, he owns a party supply store and has a gambling problem. Andre Braugher's Owen, a family man, is struggling to get out from under the shadow of his father, a former NBA star for whom Owen works at his successful car dealership.

Then there's Scott Bakula's Terry, a confirmed bachelor and struggling actor still waiting for that big break as he approaches 50. When he's not auditioning for commercials or Lifetime movies, the commitment-phobic Terry likes to bed younger women, especially waitresses, who want no more from him than he wants from them, which is usually about 20 minutes.

At times, "Men of a Certain Age" was painful to watch -- in part because all three characters so successfully conveyed the feeling of powerlessness they felt in their lives. Owen is frustrated at his inability to prove to his father that he is worthy of not only his love, but also his respect. Terry, who on the surface seems happy-go-lucky, is filled with rage about his lack of professional success and his anger occasionally rises to the surface. Sometimes he seems like a ticking time bomb. Joe's son Albert struggles to fit in and has severe anxiety issues, while his daughter is growing up too fast. Furthermore, Joe's gambling is sucking away not only his money, but his soul as well.

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