Let me go on record now by saying that I am a 26 yr old African American male and Men of a Certain Age slightly scared me of what life could be one day. But to be honest, I felt that the show touched on points that I am actually experiencing now in life.
In short, the show is great.
The Set Up
The first of the guys we meet is Joe (Ray Romano), who wakes up in a hotel room at exactly 6:00 am to recite his morning wake up call and guess the temperature for the day. Apparently he has been staying there for a while. He looks into the mirror in his bathroom with a blank, knowing stare that says, “Who am I and how did I get here?” What a tone setter.
Owen (Andre Braugher) awakes to one of his sons playing Hulk with Guns and the kid shoots a ball to Owen’s head. Owen’s wife, Melissa (Lisa Gay Hamilton), walks in with their newborn baby, mentioning that Owen could have slept better if he had of used his breathing treatment mask. Owen doesn’t like the thing and doesn’t plan on wearing it. Outside, men work on renovating their house, which has been in process for months. Owen just wants to use his own bathroom instead of the kids for once.
Terry (Scott Bakula) awakes to a horn blaring outside and his latest conquest hurriedly putting on her clothes. She reminds him that he’s supposed to go hiking with Owen and Joe.
While Owen and Joe wait for Terry, they discuss their friend’s latest hiccups, such as landing a temp job that starts at noon daily and his fading acting career. During this we also learn that Owen is a diabetic as he injects himself with insulin, and that Joe is slowly but surely getting over his separation from his ex-wife, Sonya, who Joe says is simply his “friend” now. Joe sums up that their hiking trips are good therapy on their minds, which Owen only slightly agrees. When Terry comes out, Owen asks if Joe hates Terry more now or when they were in college. After Terry sees off his lady friend, Beth, Joe sums up that he hates him more now.
As the guys are driving to the hiking site, Terry tells them about Beth and his yoga job, which Owen and Joe call BS, then Joe starts talking about how he lost two pounds that morning from peeing, which prompts Owen to call BS on that tidbit. While defending his weight loss, Joe runs over a big ass possum in the road. He stops the truck and they look at the possum for a sec before Owen says to continue to drive. But Joe feels bad and thinks that the possum could still be alive in some capacity. He eventually decides to run over the possum a couple of times to ensure the animal is dead. While his friends look at him in disbelief, he explains that it is the humane thing to do. When Joe drives off, he (as well as the other guys) are shocked to see the possum get up and walk off.
Mid Life Crises
Owen rushes to his job as a car sales man for a dealership that his dad, Owen Sr. (Richard Gant) owns. The salesmen are in a monthly meeting and they go over the pros and cons of the previous month. Owen gets there too late and the door is locked. In the meeting, Marcus (Brian J. White) a star salesman, is being praised and honored for his high sales and commission rate. Owen beats on the door until his father gives the go head to let him in. It is clear to everyone in the room that Owen is a complete joke, which doesn’t bode well with his father.
Joe arrives at the costume and party store that he owns and his employees think he is a joke for listening to jukebox music. He later putts golf balls in the back of the store, when one of his employees, DeShaun, comes to talk to him. Turns out that Joe had been making bets and paying a bookie through DeShaun’s father, who wants Joe to pay the bookie himself from now on. Joe asks DeShaun if the bookie is safe and DeShaun simply says that while he doesn’t think that the bookie has killed anyone, doesn’t mean that the bookie doesn’t know people who have. Joe drops his face.
Terry arrives at his temp job thirty minutes late, but brushes it and his supervisor off. His supervisor asks about the commercial he saw Terry in the night before, which Terry cringes at. When the the supervisor asks if Terry still gets residuals, some geek, Steve, speaks up and answers for Terry. The supervisor ignores this and asks for Terry to finish some spreadsheets for him. Steve, who clearly is a wanna be actor, gives Terry the heads up for a Lifetime movie role, which Terry doesn’t want.
Later at the dealership, Owen is sinking with his customers and Owen Sr. has Marcus to pull Owen out of the sale and to close it for him. Owen is livid that Marcus is getting all the attention, even from the customers, and that his father has more faith in Marcus than him to complete a sale.
Note: I had a hard time believing that Richard Gant (Owen Sr.) could be Andre Braugher’s (Owen) father on the show. A quick IMDB search and I shut my thinking trap. Moving on…
At a diner called Norm’s, the guys meet for lunch. Joe complains about his lack of vision on a ketchup bottle then he berates Owen for his aggressive eating and appetite. Terry then explains to Owen how being a car salesman is pretty much a “Sisyphean task” and that it’s pointless. When Owen defends his job, the guys comment on how aggressive Owen can get. Owen says that he will one day run the dealership and that’s his goal, being his own boss. This comment gets Joe thinking and he asks the guys if they ever got to a point in their life where they don’t recognize themselves or only can remember a glimpse of who they were. A philosophical question, which Owen attributes to the possum they hit.
Ch-Ch-Changes…(Time To Face The Strange…)
Joe makes it back to work and bumps into an attractive female, who immediately catches his eye. Owen falls asleep at work to the disgust and disappointment of his father. At a coffee shop, Terry talks to an attractive waitress named Annie (Carla Garlo), who is a writer, about taking the “Cry Bobby” Lifetime pic and how he hates it. Annie tells him pretty much that he can do it or retire since Terry is talking about “drawing a line” at some things as if he can turn down roles. His other option is a clown class, so you do the math.
Joe tries to catch up with his daughter Lucy (Brittany Curran) and son Albert (Braeden Lemasters), who are more concerned with their cellphones and PSPs. Joe finally gets their attention and after hearing that Albert got in trouble at school (he said the word “dildo” in class) and Joe panics and gives the kids a preemptive sex talk. They so don’t want to hear it, but Joe is determined to get his point across, even if it confuses them.
Owen Sr. tells Owen that he is giving the managing position to Marcus. When Owen calls bullcrap, Owen Sr. says that Marcus is better dressed, he takes care of himself and he works hard. He then tells Owen that he is a complete slob and a complete embarrassment. Without changing a breath, Owen Sr. leaves it at that and walks off, leaving Owen picking up the few pieces of the little pride he had left.
Joe tells the guys about the fantasy woman at the hiking range. Owen passes Joe and Terry as they discuss a rock formation called a cairn which are supposed to represent a memorial for the dead. They continue walking and find Owen lying on the ground, unconscious. They panic and tote Owen back to Joe’s truck to take him to the hospital. When Joe is about to pull off, the fantasy woman stands in front of the truck. Terry and Joe get in a debate over the woman’s breast are real or not, which distracts Joe as he pulls off and is nearly hit by a truck. The sudden stop sends Owen face first into the dashboard, breaking his nose.
When Owen comes to, he finds the guys and Melissa standing over him. His nose is bandaged up. His doctor tells him that he had a diabetic seizure, which might have been from not eating earlier that morning. When the doctor mentions the broken nose, Owen looks to the guys for an explanation and they lie, saying that Owen fell face first. Some friends…heh.
Joe does some online gambling and he seems good at it. So good that it’s the reason his family is not together at the moment. He calls Sonya and tells her about Owen, but really just wants to meet up with her to make things work. When he mentions that he quit gambling (which is a ball-faced lie), Sonya’s voice gets quiet on the other end. He reverts the convo back to Owen, which prompts Sonya to comment that she will call Melissa about Owen and they hang up. Hmmm…
A New Beginning…
Terry goes to the open call audition and is shocked to find a hallway full of hopeful men waiting in line for their chance at the part. Time passes by and when Terry and the remaining guys hear the casting directors give the current applicant a round of applause, everyone knows they will have to bring their A-game. But Terry and the hopefuls clearly don’t want to try to follow up immediately after the crowd pleaser, but who just so happens to be called next? Terry. He tries to give the spot to the next person, but no one takes it so he goes in. Later he stops by the coffee shop to talk to Annie about the audition. As he begins to ask Annie out on a date, she accepts before he can get the invite out. Terry has clout like that?!
In the hospital, Owen gets angry thinking about the dealership and tells Melissa that he will not be going back to there. Melissa tries to accept that, but then renigs when she lists all the expenses that they are caught up in and they need Owen’s income to get by. He reluctantly accepts
Joe meets Burt, the bookie he has been dealing with, for the first time face to face. While Burt is marveled that Joe owns the party store, his cheer is quickly diminished when Joe claims that he doesn’t have the money to pay Burt (another ball-faced lie). When Burt reaches into his coat, Joe thinks he’s about to be whacked, but Burt pulls out a cellphone instead. (Note: A part of me thinks that Joe wanted Burt to kill him because of the way his life is going now, but that’s just me.) Burt makes a call to his mother to tell him that Joe didn’t have the money, but he also lists that he is pretty damn broke. Joe then admits that he has the money, which is grounds to shoot him for playing. Burt is not mad, but tells Joe that he is weird. No kidding. When Burt tells Joe that his slate is clean till next time, Joe mentions Sisyphus, which throws Burt off again. Joe then asks Burt for a favor. Joe and Burt are next in the woods looking for the possum Joe hit for Burt to give it a mercy killing. When they find him, the possum is dead to the world. Joe then builds a cairn in its honor, which makes Burt think Joe is even weirder than ever.
At the dealership, Owen returns to work where Marcus holds court like a BMOD (Big Man on Dealership). A couple appears on the lot looking at cars and the supervisor gives everyone a heads up. Marcus tells everyone to stay back like a good alpha male would. But Owen is not about to be outdone this time. He literally knocks Marcus out the way and goes to tend to the customers. The salesmen laugh at Marcus, while Owen Sr. watches from above, his expression unreadable.
Joe hikes up the hill by himself with his earphones on and comes across the fantasy woman, who is hiking too. The woman says “Good Morning!”, which Joe shouts back in return, due to the head phones. The woman chuckles, but Joe feels on top of the world.
That was Men of a Certain Age! I am loving it. I found myself identifying with ALL of the characters on so many different levels, which, like I said before, scared the crap out of me. I mostly identify with Ray Romano’s Joe when it comes to overanalyzing things and being anxious and neurotic at times. Owen’s issues with family pressure is where we see eye to eye at. Terry’s book sense always make people hate it when I correct them on something. The guys took steps to turn their lives around and I, for one, can’t wait to see how that works out for them.
See you next week!