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Sunday, August 26, 2012

Romanticising Anger Management

After a great penultimate episode, in which Charlie's (Charlie Sheen) father, Martin (Martin Sheen), came to visit, the only thing certain about the FX Anger Management season finale was that it couldn't possibly be as good. But, as a series should in its finale, the focus was on the relationship between two of the characters, rather than a terrific guest star, making it actually pretty good.

Comparatively, that is. I'm not saying Anger Management is a wonderful show. It is much more watchable and enjoyable that Sheen's last sitcom, but it's hardly breaking any new barriers. The things it has going for it are a funny ensemble, humorous plots, and a fair level of heart. Charlie is a good guy, despite his screw ups, which is why "Charlie Gets Romantic" finds you rooting for someone you may have been booing off screen only a year ago. And, with such low expectations going in, it's nice to be pleasantly surprised, which is probably why I'm still watching.

In "Charlie Gets Romantic," Kate (Selma Blair) flips out when Charlie asks her to go to the movies after sex. Their physical relationship is supposed to be emotion-free, and she doesn't want Charlie screwing that up. Charlie, who realizes he does care about her, gently lets her see what no emotion between them is like, and is on board when Kate agrees to restore some feelings to the proceedings.

Does a friends with benefits situation work? Clearly not, according to Anger Management. If anyone could have this kind of thing and be successful at it, it would be these two characters. As they age, though, and realize just how much they like being around one another, they want something more, even if it's hard to admit it. This is completely understandable. Rather than set up a "will they, won't they?" situation, as most sitcoms do, this show presents a "they will in their own time" scenario, with a gradual progress that will probably take awhile longer.

Should Anger Management get it's back 90 pick up, and there aren't many reasons right now to suspect that they won't, that growth needs to continue. In ten episodes, there are some arcs for the characters. They start in one place, and they go somewhere else, even if it's not that far a journey. In the next 90 episodes, it might be tempting to set up a status quo and remain stagnant. This is not the way to go. Being given this many hours is a gift, and it should be used wisely to tell a complete tale. Hopefully, the team behind Anger Management realizes this.

My only real complaint about "Charlie Gets Romantic" is the lack of work many of the great supporting players got. Michael (Michael Boatman) and Brett (Brett Butler) receive nice moments, and since they were each only in half the episodes, it was good to see that. Jennifer (Shawnee Smith) also appears, hopefully lying the seeds for what could be a true, three-way romantic triangle with Charlie and Kate. But the therapy group (Noureen DeWulf, Michael Arden, Derek Richardson, and Barry Corbin), who deliver some of the best scenes in the series, are given hardly anything to do. They make it work, of course, but I would have liked to have seen more from them.

Anger Management ended up being a surprisingly good, not great, show. I look forward to its return soon. Assuming it gets picked up, which it probably will.

If you like my reviews, please follow me on Twitter! Check out my new website, JeromeWetzel.com! Article first published on TheTVKing

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