With Scott Bakula, Andre Braugher and Ray Romano at the helm, this show should be a home run flying out of the park, but like many pilots I couldn't find the hook. To be fair, as a middle-aged female, a series about men's dysfunction might be too far off the mark for me to interpret. It was more than that. The very first episode was so full of hopelessness, I couldn't even get all the way through it.
I remember when I heard David Duchovny would be starring in "Californication." I couldn't wait to see him back on the screen. When I got halfway through that pilot I also realized I was in the wrong waiting room. My enjoyment of David Duchovny's acting wasn't enough to embrace what he was representing, although I know plenty of women who swooned at his sexual prowess onscreen. I simply couldn't get past the drugs and senseless sex coming from someone who's character was also a dad. It didn't make any sense.
I don't know what I was expecting from "Men of A Certain Age." My only reason for tuning in was Scott Bakula. I've loved everything I've seen him do. He is an amazing actor and knows how to pull at the audience's heart strings, but to be honest I've only seen him in good roles.
Knowing Bakula's traditional roles were the good guy and that generally speaking in the world of fame he himself is also one of the good guys, I was shocked to see him personify a bad boy. It was more than that. Scott Bakula is a REALLY GOOD actor and as such, the one thing that drew me to the show repelled me as well. I probably wouldn't have been as offended by his character had I never seen him in any other role. He made an exquisite scum bag.
On the other hand, I have never liked Ray Romano's work. I was surprised to find (after reading a TV.com staff writer's review) the piece was his brainchild as all the advertising I had seen was for Scott Bakula. I've never been a fan of New York "it doesn't really matter" style humor that "Seinfeld" or "Everybody Loves Raymond" embraced. I champion shows that contain hope at their core, not diatribes about how bad life is and how it will never get better.
I also found Ray Romano's acting in this piece far from the quality of both Bakula and Braugher. It was painful watching two amazing drama actors and someone who looked like he was still trying to be a comedian without a line of comedy in the script. I don't know a lot about Andre Braugher, but he had the goods on screen. Both he and Bakula put much more value into what was written in the script with their performances than Romano. I would go even further to say even the supporting actors were of such intense quality, had the script been better constructed I would have continued to watch the series.
I'm not against shows about men finding their way. One show I was incredibly disappointed to see go was "In Case of Emergency." Sure, not a lot of people watched it, but it was hysterically funny regarding the very same topic "Men of A Certain Age" addresses - what do middle-aged men who's lives haven't exactly turned out to be the American dream do? From the very beginning "In Case of Emergency's" characters hooked you. There was something about the way they were composed that evoked compassion and hope, which is a commodity far too scarce these days.
"Men of A Certain Age's" characters seemed to be composed of two guys who don't deserve our compassion and Ray Romano's character who drowning in his own self-pity and lack of self-esteem we don't even want to be around. Even thinking about the group, I start to feel like this piece was written with such a desperate need for Ray Romano to be a star that he purposely made the other two characters (an egotistical actor who sleeps with one woman after another and a spoiled lazy son expecting to inherit his father's business) archetypes that would seal that deal. If that was the case, it failed miserably.
"Men of A Certain Age" may attract those who like stewing in the darkness of the underbelly of self-pity, but I personally want that 30 minutes of my life back. I don't fault Scott Bakula for wanting to stretch his acting skills by portraying a darker character, but in the future it would be nice if those types of roles came with a surgeon general's warning for those of us that would follow him anywhere. ;D