Thursday, June 28, 2012

Charlie Sheen returns in Anger Management

FX just premiered Anger Management, a sitcom loosely based on the film of the same name. The show is about a therapist named Charlie (Charlie Sheen, Two and a Half Men) who specializes in treating people with anger issues. This is appropriate, because Charlie also suffers from a rage affliction. He is seeking help in dealing with his own emotions from fellow therapist / best friend with benefits, Kate (Selma Blair, Kath & Kim), while trying to be a better father to daughter Sam (Daniela Bobadilla, Awake).

For all the Charlie Sheen haters out there, Anger Management is not as bad as you think it might be. One has to admit, Sheen is a talented performer, or he would not have gotten all of the projects he has done over the years, or created such a fervent following. Two and a Half Men is an absolutely horrible series with little redeeming value, with or without Sheen. Anger Management is not. That's not to say that Anger Management is great, by any means. But it's much better than his previous job.

The main problem with Anger Management is that it lacks a feeling of freshness or edge. There is an old, familiar formula in place here, of divorced dad failing to be there enough for his daughter, and regretting the past wrongs against his ex. The therapy sessions make it a little bit different, but not enough to set the show apart from its peers. This would not be a surprising effort on a network channel, but for FX, known for creative, groundbreaking comedies, Anger Management does not live up to the brand.

There are number of things Anger Management does right. It is funny. Whether Charlie is selling Kate on sex, or helping his messed up patients, somehow managing to keep from being judgmental, or chatting with bartender Brett (Brett Butler, Grace Under Fire), or being tortured by ex-wife, Jennifer (Shawnee Smith, Becker), the stories are amusing. A tongue in cheek opening to the pilot, "Charlie Goes Back to Therapy," which is a slam on Two and a Half Men, also works very well.

Thus, Sheen deserves the credit for many of the positive of the series. There is a huge, talented supporting cast, which also includes Michael Arden, Barry Corbin (One Tree Hill), Derek Richardson (Men in Trees), Michael Boatman (The Good Wife, Spin City) and Noureen DeWulf (Hawthorne). The second episode features a wonderful guest turn by Kerri Kenney-Silver (Reno 911!). But all of these other people revolve around the main man. In this role, Sheen balances likable with an authentic personality, admitting flaws, but working to be a better person. It's exactly the right message the actor needs to send at this point in his career, and this vehicle is perfect for him in this regard.

So will Anger Management be a triumph? It's hard to say. The ratings for the premiere will likely be inflated because of Sheen's much anticipated return to television. But will fans of his previous work stick by a tamer series? FX has a few short weeks to decide whether to order 90 more episodes or cancel the show. My gut says it will be the former, and, as weird as it is to say this, it might actually deserve to live on past these initial ten. I expected to hate it. That is amused and charmed me, even if not overly so, is a win.

Catch Anger Management Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on FX.

If you like my reviews, please follow me on Twitter!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.