×

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.

Popular on Variety

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

  • Nordisk Film & TV Fond Announces

    Nordisk Film & TV Fond Backs Joachim Trier, Ole Bornedal, Yellow Bird

    Nordisk Film & TV Fond has announced three features, two series and a documentary set to receive $1.4m in financing, as well as distribution, dubbing and cultural initiative support recipients. Doing so, it highlights some of the key titles moving forward in the Nordic region. Already backed by the Danish Film Institute’s largest ever grant [...]

  • TV News Roundup: 'Silicon Valley' Final

    TV News Roundup: 'Silicon Valley's' Final Season Sets October Premiere Date

    In today’s roundup, “Silicon Valley” returns to HBO on Oct. 27 and Quibi greenlights a new cooking competition show “Dismantled.” DATES The fifth season of Netflix‘s “Peaky Blinders” will premiere on the streamer Oct. 4. The newest season will continue to follow one gangster family in the lawless streets of Birmingham, UK during the midst [...]

  • Peter Fonda Dead: 'Easy Rider' Star

    Peter Fonda, Star of 'Easy Rider,' Dies at 79

    Two-time Oscar nominee Peter Fonda, who became a counterculture icon when he co-wrote, produced and starred in seminal 1969 road movie “Easy Rider,” then showed Hollywood he could act about three decades later in “Ulee’s Gold,” died on Friday from lung cancer at his home in Los Angeles. He was 79. His sister Jane Fonda [...]

  • CineLink Drama Brings High-End Series to

    CineLink Drama Brings High-End Series to Sarajevo

    When the organizers of the Sarajevo Film Festival’s CineLink Industry Days surveyed the local TV landscape several years ago, they recognized the chance to make an impact. “We decided five years ago that we need to do something,” says CineLink industry coordinator Armin Hadzic. “The [regional] TV and public broadcasters were coming from another age.” [...]

  • SCHOOLED - ABC's "Schooled" stars Bryan

    'Kids Are Alright' Creator Joins 'Schooled' Season 2 as Showrunner

    Tim Doyle is taking over as showrunner and executive producer on the upcoming second season of “Schooled” at ABC, Variety has confirmed. Doyle takes over from Season 1 showrunner and series co-creator Marc Firek, who has exited the series to focus on development. The news comes just months after Doyle’s 1970s-set comedy series, “The Kids [...]

  • Matthew Miller'Lethal Weapon' TV series screening,

    'Lethal Weapon' Team Lands Put Pilot Order at Fox for Cop Drama 'Dead Eddie' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Matt Miller and Alex Taub are staying in business with Fox. The pair, who previously worked together on Fox’s series adaptation of “Lethal Weapon,” have scored a put pilot commitment at the broadcaster for a new drama project, Variety has learned exclusively. The drama is titled “Dead Eddie.” In the series, after a near-death experience, misanthropic [...]

  • Krypton Syfy

    'Krypton' Canceled After Two Seasons at Syfy, Network Not Moving Forward on 'Lobo' Spinoff

    “Krypton” has been canceled after two seasons at Syfy. In addition, the NBCUniversal cabler is not moving ahead with a planned “Lobo” spinoff. “Krypton,” set two generations before the destruction of Superman’s titular home planet, follows Superman’s grandfather Seg-El (Cameron Cuffe) as a young man faced with saving his home planet or letting it be [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content