on the tube

By Dean Robbins


‘Men of a Certain Age’ grows old gracefully

The broadcast networks’ fall series gave TV a bad name, but “Men of a Certain Age” (Monday, 9 p.m., TNT) makes you fall in love with the medium all over again. Ray Romano co-created this masterful drama about middle-aged friends who’ve lost their mojo. Joe (Romano) is a sad sack with a gambling problem and a broken marriage, Terry (Scott Bakula) is a fading actor and ladies’ man, and Owen (Andre Braugher) is a car salesman who eternally disappoints his father.

These brilliant actors have such rapport that they seem to be making up the dialogue as it comes out of their mouths. Nothing feels forced: not the quirkiness, not the poignancy. Every scene is a revelation, packed with observations about life in the ’00s. When Joe drops his two kids off, each is peering into a handheld device while politely enduring his awkward attempt to be fatherly. I didn’t know whether to laugh, cringe or cry.


Sunday, 8 p.m. (SyFy)

For the first 15 minutes, this miniseries is a perfect domestic drama. Alice (Caterina Scorsone) teaches karate, flirts with her boyfriend and tells her mother about her disappointing love life. Then Alice goes through a looking glass and lands in a creepy adaptation of “Alice in Wonderland.”

An evil queen (Kathy Bates) is drugging her subjects into submission and harvesting the life force of abductees like Alice. Scorsone is reduced to looking confused and skeptical as she stumbles from one overdone CGI set to another. Meanwhile, the production worries about making cutesy correspondences with Lewis Carroll’s book more than telling a coherent story.

I kept wanting to send Alice back through the looking glass into the normal world, where that domestic drama seemed so promising. CV


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