A review of tonight's "Men of a Certain Age" coming up just as soon as I wear a fake mustache and have two cell phones...

When you watch as much TV as I do, you're sometimes conditioned to expect the worst out of certain plot devices. And even though we're more than a dozen episodes into "Men of a Certain Age" and Ray Romano, Mike Royce and company have made it clear that it is not the kind of show that's going to tell stories with hackneyed sitcom logic, there are still moments where I wind up bracing myself for what I fear is coming. So when we find out Joe is going to try dating two women, or that Terry is going all out to beat Marcus in a sales bet, or that Owen Senior will be appearing at a charity event with two bigger, more recent Lakers stars, I reflexively cringe for what's coming, even though the show inevitably doesn't go where I fear it is.

Well, that's not entirely true. O.T. at the charity event was genuinely cringe-worthy, but in a way that felt real. The man we've come to know would of course insist on taking the mic at an event to which he was clearly invited as an extra body with a championship ring, and of course would be ignored by virtually everyone in attendance.(*) And with that situation, as with the other two, it was still a very human moment. O.T. is humiliated, Owen makes a gesture to alleviate that, and though O.T. gives him the office, Senior's still maintaining an emotional distance from Junior.

(*) On the other hand, would Owen's kids really care about Worthy or Cooper, even if their dad or granddad were constantly telling them about the history of the Lakers? I'm sure Kobe would have been an impossible get, but  surely Sasha Vujacic or Jordan Farmar or someone from one of the recent teams would have made more sense.

Similarly, Joe's attempt to see two women never devolves into some silly sitcom situation where he's juggling dates with both of them on the same night. He screws things up with Bonnie before Michelle even gets back to town, and the shame of it is that Bonnie is clearly much more Joe's speed. His attempt to use Terry's "We don't have to define things right away" was another moment, like O.T. at the mic, where I actually had to pause the show for a minute or two to prepare myself for what was coming, but was very well-played by both Romano and Jessica Tuck.

Terry's story, meanwhile, not only featured the welcome return of Michael Hitchcock as Dave, but again went somewhere that felt honest and slightly unexpected. Dave doesn't help Terry out by buying the car (and, ultimately, it wouldn't have mattered in the bet, given that Marcus seems to be back on his game), but Terry does feel a genuine impulse to help him, both with the waitress and later by helping him steal the unbreakable Humpty Dumpty statue. And the next day, Terry is still low man at the dealership.

Solid stuff, and good to have the show around in a slow month, and on a day when I put it on one of my year-end best-of lists. (And for what it's worth, it was a very close 11th on the overall list.)

What did everybody else think?  

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