×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Anger Management

Since "Anger Management" boils down to "The Bob Newhart Show" with more sex jokes, critics will likely be tempted to write about numerous topics peripherally related to the actual show. All those points, alas, are more interesting than the series.

With:
Charlie Goodson - Charlie Sheen
Jennifer Goodson - Shawnee Smith
Lacey - Noureen Dewulf
Nolan - Derek Richardson
Ed - Barry Corbin
Brett - Brett Butler
Donovan - Darius McCrary
Kate Wales - Selma Blair
Sam Goodson - Daniela Bobadilla
Patrick - Michael Arden
Michael - Michael Boatman
Cleo - James Black

Since “Anger Management” boils down to “The Bob Newhart Show” with more sex jokes, critics will likely be tempted to write about numerous topics peripherally related to the actual show. These include, but are not limited to, how Charlie Sheen looks (OK), whether the series will provide him post-“Two and a Half Men” redemption (we’ll see), and if the insurance risk associated with constructing a program around him is worth the potential reward. All those points, alas, are more interesting than the series, which is competently executed, but — thanks to Sheen’s colorful past — almost entirely beside the point.

Showrunner Bruce Helford does deserve considerable credit for creating such a dense support system around his star, who — perhaps eager to show he can still hit his mark and deadpan a line — carries plenty of the load by appearing in virtually every scene in the first two half-hours, which FX will premiere back-to-back to jumpstart its summer comedy block.

Sheen plays Charlie Goodson (conspiracy theorists will wonder why he always shares a name with his sitcom alter ego), a therapist who counsels an anger-management group consisting of the customary wacky characters. He’s also a divorced dad with an ex-wife (Shawnee Smith) and vulnerable daughter (Daniela Bobadilla), and has a hot non-committed sex buddy (Selma Blair) who also happens to be a therapist.

But it doesn’t end there. Charlie is a former pro baseball player (presumably to make a subconscious “Major League” connection) with his own anger-related issues; works out of home (former “Spin City” co-star Michael Boatman plays his neighbor); counsels a prison group; and still finds time to cat around, taking his dates to a local watering hole where the bartender (Brett Butler), if not everyone, knows his name.

This is, quite simply, a Frankencom, stitched together from pieces of other comedies. To their credit, Sheen, the talented cast and seasoned writers know how to make it all look slick and polished, even if there’s nary an original bone in its body — down to the audience’s excessively boisterous laughter.

That said, the show takes a nasty turn in the second episode, in which Charlie is confronted by a needy woman he slept with years earlier. Mostly, it consists of insult comedy (see, she’s ugly, heh-heh) that would have been dated in Newhart’s day.

The combination of a big-name star/tabloid oddity and such broad material might be a successful formula by basic-cable standards — and certainly sampling-wise, given the inevitable curiosity Sheen generates. It’s nevertheless a slightly awkward fit with FX’s other comedies, the centerpiece of which (qualitatively, anyway) is the much-superior, risk-taking “Louie,” along with the darkly peculiar “Wilfred.”

So in essence, the parties are using Sheen — FX as a launching pad, Lionsgate/Debmar-Mercury as a possible syndication payday — just as he’s using them to rehab his career.

It might work out all around. But if there’s any excitement surrounding “Anger Management,” the Tiger’s blood is in those details, not in the show itself.

Anger Management

FX, Thurs. June 28, 9 p.m.

Production: Filmed in Los Angeles by Lionsgate and distributed by Debmar-Mercury. Executive producers, Bruce Helford, Dave Caplan, Mark Burg, Joe Roth, Vince Totino; co-executive producers, Bob Kushell, Janae Bakken, Ramon Estevez, Robert Maron, Todd Zeile; producers, Michael Loftus, Kent Zbornak; director, Andy Cadiff; writer, Helford.

Crew: Camera, Peter Smoker; production designer, Jerry Dunn; editor, John Fuller; music, Raney Shockne; casting, G. Charles Wright. 30 MIN.

Cast: Charlie Goodson - Charlie Sheen
Jennifer Goodson - Shawnee Smith
Lacey - Noureen Dewulf
Nolan - Derek Richardson
Ed - Barry Corbin
Brett - Brett Butler
Donovan - Darius McCrary
Kate Wales - Selma Blair
Sam Goodson - Daniela Bobadilla
Patrick - Michael Arden
Michael - Michael Boatman
Cleo - James Black

More TV

  • Walt Disney Archives Founder Dave Smith

    Walt Disney Archives Founder Dave Smith Dies at 78

    Walt Disney Archives founder Dave Smith, the historian who spent 40 years cataloging and preserving the company’s legacy of entertainment and innovation, died Friday in Burbank, Calif. He was 78. Smith served as Disney’s chief archivist from 1970 to 2010. He was named a Disney Legend in 2007 and served as a consultant to the [...]

  • TV Writer Christopher Knopf, Former WGA

    TV Writer Christopher Knopf, Former WGA West President, Dies at 91

    Prolific Emmy-nominated television writer Christopher Edwin Knopf, former president of the Writers Guild of America West, died in his sleep of congestive heart failure on Feb. 13. He was 91. Knopf was born in New York and attended UCLA, leaving during his senior year to join the Air Force during World War II. He finished [...]

  • Jussie Smollett The Black AIDS Insitute

    Jussie Smollett Case: Two Suspects Released Without Charges as New Evidence Emerges

    After two days of questioning, the Chicago Police Department announced Friday evening that it has released two suspects in the Jussie Smollett case without filing charges. Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said that detectives had developed new information in the case. Police no longer consider the men to be suspects. “Due to new evidence as a [...]

  • GOTHAM: L-R: Guest star Cameron Monaghan

    TV News Roundup: Fox Drops 'Gotham' Final Season Trailer (Watch)

    In today’s TV news roundup, Fox released a new trailer for an upcoming episode of “Gotham” and Disney has announced the cast for its upcoming “High School Musical” series.  FIRST LOOKS Showtime released a new trailer and the official poster for the upcoming fourth season of “Billions,” premiering March 17 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. In [...]

  • Chris Rock

    Chris Rock to Direct Kenan Thompson Comedy Pilot at NBC

    Chris Rock has come onboard to direct the NBC single-cam comedy pilot “Saving Kenan,” Variety has learned. Rock will also executive produce the pilot, which stars “SNL” mainstay Kenan Thompson. Thompson will play a newly widowed dad determined to be everything for his kids while begrudgingly letting his persistent father-in-law become more involved in their lives [...]

  • Peak TV Saturation TV Placeholder

    Apollo Global Management Buys Majority Stake in Cox TV Stations

    Private equity giant Apollo Global Management has cut a deal with Atlanta-based Cox Enterprises to buy a majority stake in Cox’s 13 TV stations as well as three newspapers and a handful of radio stations in Ohio. Apollo has been in the hunt for broadcast TV stations for some time. Cox’s station group, which includes [...]

  • Ken Jeong TV Take Podcast

    Listen: Ken Jeong on His Return to Stand-Up and New Netflix Special

    Welcome to “TV Take,” Variety’s television podcast. In this week’s episode, Variety’s executive editor of TV, Daniel Holloway, talks with Ken Jeong about his Netflix comedy special, “Ken Jeong: You Complete Me, Ho,” and being a judge on Fox’s “The Masked Singer.“ Jeong started working on his new standup act after ABC canceled his show “Dr. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content