Wednesday, July 11, 2012

REVIEW: Anger Management

FX - Thursday 9:30/8:30c

Charlie Sheen's breakup with CBS was much publicized, as was his meltdown that led to said breakup.  So it makes sense that the first 30 seconds of his new FX show, Anger Management, would feature him yelling at the camera about replacing him and moving on with the show.  This was of course not really a work, but rather took place in the context of his group therapy session, and was a clever breaking the 4th wall that was expected yet still amusing.

The rest of the show was not as amusing.

1.  Does it entertain me?
Let me preface this review by saying that I generally like Charlie Sheen.  Hot Shots is excellent parody, Major League still makes me laugh, and he shows acting chops in both Platoon and Wall Street.  But I find everything about Two and a Half Men abysmal, and I would not have cared if Sheen ever returned to television.

But he did, because he's still a big draw for sit-com audiences, and I'm sure Anger Management will be with us for a while.  That's mostly because the humor is crude and sex-filled, and that appeals to many of FX's target demographic.

I think what's sad here is that Charlie Sheen once again plays a character named Charlie, and his comic timing is not put to good use here.  I don't know if he will ever be an Emmy winning performer, but I can't be alone in wishing that he would do an intelligent comedy, something on HBO or anything without a laugh track.  If he wants to play a fictionalized version of himself, ala Extras or Episodes, that is something that would be welcome.

As it stands, though, this is another forgettable comedy that will stay on the air for a few years and make money.

2.  Is it realistic?
The situations seem fine, but there are no real people involved.  The characters are shallow and one-dimensional and exist to get a laugh only.  That is the ultimate problem with these kinds of shows: character sit on couches in order to get a laugh, and remain there for the entire series.  There is no motivation, no development, and no real purpose or underlying theme.

3.  Are immoral actions defended?
All the time.  Every joke is sexually based, and they can get quite dirty for a non-HBO show.  It's uncomfortable and shameful that there wasn't one single joke the entire pilot episode that was not about sex.

4.  Are traditional family values upheld?
Charlie (the character and the actor) is in bed with a woman, and they have just finished having sex, and he joyfully promises that he will never love her, because the sex is so good.  This is the coke-riddled world of Charlie Sheen: sex and love not only can be separated, but they should be separated.  In fact, genuine love would just get in the way of sex.  Which is probably why he was on a drug bender not too long ago.

Don Draper said it best, after Pete Campbell had just slept with a college girl: "Roger is unhappy.  I never thought you were."
Anger Management is another example of wasted talent and sex jokes for the sake of sex jokes.  It's not funny but it will be popular, because that's the way the world works.  But there are better shows out there (just turn on NBC on Thursdays) and you should be spending your time with them.

Grade: C-

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