The second-season premiere of Men of a Certain Age on Monday night found our trio of pals – Ray Romano’s Joe; Andre Braugher’s Owen, Scott Bakula’s Terry – facing, or avoiding, new challenges. Joe was self-treating his gambling addiction by geting in shape for a golf senior tour; Owen was trying to assume the mantle of leadership at his father’s car dealership; and Terry was swallowing his actor’s ego and trying to boost his income by selling cars at that same dealership. It’s not a spoiler to say thatthey’re all failing, in varying degrees. But the achievement of this series that it makes middle-age failure so energetically entertaining.
No other show would, or could, make one of its stand-out moments include a man’s embarrassment at having to use reading-glasses for the first time in front of his date. Self-conscious about aging and his newly-single status, Joe can barely bring himself to do things that might bring him pleasure, whether it’s playing golf or playing the field. Similarly, Owen can’t revel in the victory he secured at the end of last season – forcing his imperious dad (Richard Gant) to let him run the dealership – because as soon as he takes over, he faces new ego-battering problems, such as a sales staff that dismisses him as a mere Daddy’s-boy.
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