‘Men Of A Certain Age’ Returns With The Great Escape June 1 2011
I love Men Of A Certain Age, I really do. From the theme song, the Beach Boys “When I Grow Up To Be A Man,” right through to the last moments of each episode, I am hopelessly in thrall to this trio of normal guys, with normal problems. No one is all good or all evil, in fact, to these guys, a moment of thinking about themselves rather than their loved ones is about as evil as they get. They face real situations, like how to keep a roof over their heads, or when to schedule the dreaded, over 50, colonoscopy, as a united front. They genuinely want to be good people. When they fail, they get up and try again. They’re good guys. I love them.
Well, they’ve been away for a while, since this season is being delivered in two chunks. We saw the first six episodes back in the fall. We must have been good, because another six episodes are now rolling out. Starring Ray Romano as Joe, Scott Bakula as Terry, and Andre Braugher as Owen, our fearless heroes are still fighting the good fight.
When we last saw our boys, Joe had finally gotten himself organized as a scratch golfer, Terry, with a job at Owen’s car lot, had fallen in love, and Owen had discovered that the car lot he’d just been bequeathed was actually so far in debt, it might never crawl out. Joe also had finally hammered out a divorce agreement he could live with, although he wasn’t sure divorce was really what he wanted. And his former bookie, Manfro, had opted for cancer treatment, when Joe promised to help in any way he could.
So, it’s a new day. Joe picks up his kids, Lucy and Albert, at ex-wife Sonia’s house, to take them to school. When Albert realizes he’s left his watch inside, Joe’s prepared to wait, but neither his son nor daughter want to go back into the house. Apparently Mum’s been a little emotional lately. Joe’s sort of glad to hear that, until Lucy opines that she thinks it might be ‘the change.’
At the restaurant, Joe’s disappointed that Owen’s leaving early for work, while Terry’s just having coffee, since he’s meeting Erin for lunch. Aww! Joe had so much he wanted to share with the guys! As Owen rises, Terry reminds Joe and Owen that his 50th is coming up, and he wants to go hiking. Save the date! Before Joe can catch up, Terry gets a text from Erin, who’s been away for a week, and he leaves immediately.
When Terry and Erin arrive at the restaurant, she tells him that she’s got to cut it short, for a parent/teacher meeting. Even worse, the waitress, Annie, at the restaurant knows Terry from a previous ‘fling.’ Erin is not at all impressed. Terry tries to smooth over the moment by inviting Erin for a home cooked meal, but Erin wonders if Terry is worried about running into other ‘flings’ if they go out. Later, as Terry walks Erin to his apartment, he discovers that his landlord has padlocked his door. Erin invites Terry to stay at her place for as long as he needs.
At Erin’s, Terry prepares dinner, then puts his few toiletries in the bathroom with Erin’s. He’s clearly happy with the situation. As Erin praises Terry’s cooking, her cat, Teddy, enters, and flirts with Terry. Erin falls asleep watching TV, but rouses enough to make love to Terry in her bedroom, with cat Teddy a reluctant observer. But the next morning, as Teddy purrs in Terry’s face, he hears Erin crying in the bathroom. The same cosy toothbrush arrangement that made him feel good, are making her feel pressured. She thinks they’ve made a huge mistake, trading their friendship for a relationship. She’s afraid they’re throwing away what they have for a ‘fling’ even though he says it isn’t. She asks him to sleep on the couch.
At Joe’s party store, he finds that his second in command, Maria, is not on top of things when he discovers a cache of “Happy New Year 2009” stock. Sonia shows up at the store with Albert’s suitcase, as he’s sleeping over at a friend’s. Sonia dissolves into tears as she confesses that she’s broken up with Harold (the man she left Joe for,) after discovering he was cheating with one of his students. Joe tries to comfort her, but remembers he’s got a date with Manfro that evening. Joe meets Manfro for a night out before he begins chemotherapy. Manfro wants a wild night, but Joe needs to turn in early in order to make a morning golf practice. After a steak dinner, they go to a strip club, where Joe is uncomfortable, but Manfro picks up a stripper whose Dad also has colon cancer, and has the same oncologist. She’s even prepared to give him a medical discount. At the end of the evening, Manfro has stripper Carly’s phone number. Joe’s sceptical, but Manfro’s got a spring in his step, and has decided he’ll forgo treatment. He’s going to need his hair and eyebrows for his new romance.
A competitor, Evan Scarpula, stops by Owen’s car lot, and offers Owen a good price to sell the lot. At home, Owen’s wife, Melissa, is glad to turn over the family duties so that she can get to her writing of product reviews. Later, Owen shows Melissa Scarpula’s offer. As Owen and Melissa test a set of walkie talkie’s, he wonders if they should sell the lot, and get out from under his dad’s debt load. Still later, he can’t sleep, so he and Melissa test products as he thinks aloud. The Scarpula offer is low, but wouldn’t it be wild if he sold the place right out from under his dad? Unable to concentrate, Melissa tells Owen to go to bed. Instead, he brings two glasses of wine, and asks Melissa how she’d feel if he was home to look after the house and kids, and she could pursue her writing fulltime. Now we’re talking! She’s over the moon with that idea, even as Owen slowly backpedals a little on the plan. Suddenly, it’s sexy time for Owen!
Sophia calls Joe. She’s a little drunk, and appeals to Joe’s kindness. Can he come over? After a night at a strip club? Oh yes, he can! Sophia and Joe mess around a little, but stop when Joe says he feels like a ‘creepy home wrecker.’ He tells her he’s sorry about her relationship ending, but warns her not to shove it down, to deal with it. Albert arrives home unexpectedly, and Joe flees out the back.
The next day, Melissa is coping with the mess of her products, and the afterglow. Owen immediately tackles his father, who’s on his way to a fishing show, at the car lot. Rather than discuss a possible sale, Owen tells his Dad that the place needs a body shop, and they’re getting a body shop. Owen Sr. doesn’t fight.
In the sunlight of a new day, Terry lugs his 50 year old, aching, body off the couch to find a note from Erin. She’s sorry, but the door will lock behind him when he leaves. Good luck with the landlord. And as “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” plays, Terry drinks his coffee.
Breakfast at the diner. Terry and Joe chat, and Joe talks about Sonia’s call and his visit to the house. Owen arrives, and is brought up to date. And in another frame, we see Joe, all wired up for his chemo, with stripper Carly beside him for support.
And I burst into tears. Because this show is so damn real. Just about everyone I know is of ‘a certain age.’ We’ve all gone through breakups, thwarted love, nasty medical procedures, and yet, and yet … as long as you have a hand to hold, you can get through anything. That’s the beauty and the charm of this show.
We may only have five more episodes of this show to go, but I’ll enjoy every one. I hope you will too.