August 12, 2012
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Will Sheen's 'Anger' survive the hype?
By Bill Harris, QMI Agency


From left to right: "Anger Management" creator and Executive Producer Bruce Helford and actors Charlie Sheen and Selma Blair take part in a panel discussion at the FX Networks session of the 2012 Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour in Beverly Hills, California, July 28, 2012. (REUTERS/Gus Ruelas)


On with the show, this is it.

No, it's not the return of Bugs Bunny, but rather the return of Charlie Sheen. His new sitcom Anger Management finally makes its debut on Canadian television Sunday on CTV.

There's always lots of talk about Charlie. That's the easy part. He provides plenty of material. But let's toss that aside for now and actually concentrate on his show.

What's the deal with Anger Management? Good? Bad? Somewhere in between?

We'll settle on "ordinary," in both the good and bad senses of the word.

Anger Management, which already has aired eight episodes on FX in the U.S., isn't clever comedy. But it isn't supposed to be.

It's meant to be pleasant, comfortable, a little cheeky in sexual content while always maintaining the plausible deniability of double-entendres, and never, ever making any type of statement about anything.

The goal here is to be the new Two and a Half Men. Or at least another Two and a Half Men. And say what you want about that series, but it currently is headed into its 10th season, for the love of Charlie.

Loosely based on a 2003 film of the same name, Anger Management sees Sheen starring as a therapist named -- wait for it -- Charlie. He has a successful private practice, holding group sessions as well as providing counselling for prison inmates.

Prior to his career as a therapist, Charlie was a Major League Baseball player with his own anger issues. In what turned out to be the final game of his career, he tried to snap a bat over his leg. The bat won.

The injury led Charlie back to school and to his current profession, but anger still can raise its ugly head in his life, even as he's supposed to be helping others cope with the very same affliction. Selma Blair plays Charlie's own therapist, with Shawnee Smith chiming in as Charlie's ex-wife and Daniela Bobadilla on board as Charlie's daughter.

As long as the lead actors are likable -- and Sheen clearly is, despite his sporadically extreme lifestyle and proclivity for public meltdown -- these types of sitcoms often are money in the bank. That said, ratings for Anger Management generally have been headed downward on FX in the States. Part of that could be the summer TV blahs, we'll have to wait and see.

To liven things up, Charlie's real-life dad Martin Sheen is being brought on board to play -- wait for it -- the dad of the Charlie character. However, the real Charlie Sheen insisted it isn't merely stunt casting.

"We're not going to create stories because people are available," Sheen said recently at the Television Critics Association tour. "We're going to create stories and then see who's available."

So overall, Anger Management is ordinary. That's equal parts criticism and compliment, depending on your point of view.

One might even say it's extra ordinary. Not extraordinary, but extra ordinary. And extra ordinary usually sticks around longer than extraordinary, you know?

Now Canada gets its say. Let us know what's up, doc.




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