‘Men of a Certain Age’ – ‘Same as the Old Boss’: Snooze, you lose

Senior Television Writer
12.13.10 20 Comments

My quick review of tonight’s “Men of a Certain Age” coming up just as soon as I use my disease as an excuse…

Frustration is an overarching theme of “Men of a Certain Age”(*), and “Same as the Old Boss” started off as a particularly frustrating week for our three heroes. Joe has no time for the training he needs to do if he wants to make the senior tour. Terry’s not selling any cars, and now his new co-workers are ribbing him mercilessly about some of his embarrassing old commercials they found on YouTube. And though Owen’s technically in charge of the dealership, head mechanic Jesse doesn’t respect him, and it’s clear that everyone still views him as Daddy’s not-so-little boy.

(*) A season-plus in, how should we be abbreviating that long title? Do we call it “Men,” even though that’s also some people’s shorthand for Charlie Sheen’s CBS sitcom? Do we call it “MoCA,” which I guess would sound like the coffee drink? Is there a third option?

But what the show does well is finding ways to modulate that frustration so that it’s not just an 50 minutes of the guys banging their heads against a wall followed by five minutes of them getting small moral victories. Terry’s nightmare is played largely for laughs(**), where the Owen plot is a chance for Andre Braugher to play bottled-up rage, a particular type of emotion he played so well in his “Homicide” days.

(**) My inner 12-year-old laughed mightily at Bruce’s “Or my name’s not Moses Cockmonkey” reveal, not only because the name is itself funny, but because actor Albert Hall mostly plays distinguished, erudite judge types, so hearing him say “Moses Cockmonkey” was extra-amusing.

And Joe’s story turns into something else entirely when Albert goes to the party and actually has a good time – maybe a little too good a time, in that he pukes(***), but even when he was standing on the roof of the house, I never worried that he was going to fall off or that it was in any way going to turn into A Very Special “MoaCA.” The show doesn’t work that way, and Joe gets to enjoy the notion that Albert went to a party (even as he has to pretend that he’s mad at both his kids), just as Terry gets his little victory over the other salesmen when he kisses Melinda McGraw in front of them, just as Owen at least briefly gets to put Jesse in his place.

(***) Also, I’m assuming the shot of Albert running behind Joe’s truck was the show’s little homage to this section of the final chase scene from “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” right?

The stories are still small, but that allows for even smaller, interesting moments within them, like Terry giving himself direction (“Indicate more, asshole”) after another failure, or “Crimson and Clover” being on Joe’s car stereo after he mentioned it earlier.

What did everybody else think?

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