REVIEW: Anger Management, starring Charlie Sheen.
What's it all about?
Let's face it, it's about Charlie Sheen.
Charlie plays Charlie (Goodson this time) a former baseball player turned therapist who leads two anger management groups (one for prisoners, one for comedy stereotypes), while engaging in his own misdirected life featuring his OCD daughter, ex-wife, colleague-with-benefits, lecherous neighbour and random assortment of love interests.
It wants to be Two and a Half Men v2.0 - why do you think Nine is so keen to run with it?! - it is really Scandal Management 2.0, don't just embrace a celebrity meltdown, make a sitcom out of it.
From a trailer in which Sheen walks away from a train wreck (his character in Two and a Half Men was killed off by a train) through to an opening address to camera in which he tells us "you can't kill me" and makes references to winning, there is an early and obvious self awareness, almost self deprecation, about Anger Management that makes this feel sharper than the standard sitcom fare.
No one is ignoring the elephant in the room, they're making pachyderm puns.
Unfortunately after five minutes it becomes clear that this is a one-off nod, as the show settles into the more generic endearing cad/mild misogyny style of Sheen's last sitcom.
Speaking of which, they seem to have made every effort to essentially recreate the set from Two and a Half Men, only mirrored.
The door is on the right not the left, but otherwise, even the surroundings are meant to make this feel like the Claytons Two and a Half Men.
The differences are the plot strands, and to be blunt, there are too many.
The first episode feels like a game of Guess Who? where we spend half an hour working out which of the myriad "others" - the clients, the girlfriends, the neighbour, the prisoners, the daughter, the ex-wife, the ex-wife's boyfriend - are going to last. T
he two mainstays of the episode are the two therapists.
Casting Sheen as a broken anger management therapist/psychologist is kind of brilliant.
He is of course utterly convincing, in fact given his amount of life research he is probably barely acting.
For those who want to see it, there's also a nod to his career path, given his first comedy role was in Major League and this version of Charlie is a guy whose self-inflicted wounds threw his career away.
Selma Blair is odd casting as the female version of Charlie, playing friend and therapist Kate.
She's not quite convincing as nasty and a strong foil to Sheen yet, restricted in part through the costuming choices that leave her dressed for a PG rating while trying to play MA.
Still her personality might be strong enough to balance Sheen and prevent him stealing scenes but the jury is still out on this.
The writing ... hard to judge on one episode alone but it has the hallmarks of a show that throws a lot of energy, characters and effort into its first episode with every intention of turning into a generic (and VERY familiar) sitcom before too long.
In a sentence: A reminder of how good Charlie Sheen is at comedy and how bad he is at life.
Best bit: The opening anger management session seemed promising, both in terms of Sheen deprecation and long-term comedy potential.
Worst bit: The prison therapy session with repeated double-entrendre-for-dummies gags about same sex intercourse. Charlie announced he wouldn't be coming back to the group, I hope it's true.
Worth watching again? Yes, if only to see which of the characters and strands get dumped and how quickly it gets generic. It was the second most-watched show of the night, drawing 1.1 million viewers, so we can probably expect this one to stick around.
Grade: B - , for "it's promising, BUT ..."
Anger Management screens on TV2 on Wednesdays, at 8.30pm
- Sydney Morning Herald
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