Back when Charlie Sheen was fired from “Two and a Half Men,” most people knew that it wasn’t going to take him long to move on to another show. Despite his strange behavior at the time, he undoubtedly had his pick of several projects, which led him to choose “Anger Management.” In all honesty, I had never even heard of the show before watching this first season. You would think the show heralding Sheen’s return to television would have warranted a large marketing campaign to get the word out. However, after finally seeing the result of what Sheen has been doing post-firing, it seems there’s a pretty good reason why Anger Management has not been publicized more.
It revolves around Charlie Goodson (Charlie Sheen), an anger management therapist who used to be a major league baseball player, but ruined his career due to anger issues. He holds group sessions at his house where his patients get together to talk about their issues, but usually end up bickering with each other instead. Outside of his professional life, Charlie also has a good relationship with his ex-wife, Jennifer (Shawnee Smith), who is constantly visiting him with their daughter, Sam (Daniela Bobadilla). Being a single man, he also has a relationship going with a fellow anger management therapist, Kate (Selma Blair). The show deals with how he interacts with all of these people and more in his everyday life.
I should start off by saying that I didn’t mind “Two and a Half Men.” I actually watched it when it first came on, but gradually stopped due to an increasingly busy schedule. The show delivered some interesting scenarios and delivered a few laughs, which is just about all you can ask from a sitcom. Sheen did a fine job there and even got himself nominated for several awards.
So now we find him on his next show and once again we have to look at those two main ingredients of the sitcom, i.e. the situations and the comedy. Unfortunately, this show ends up having trouble with both aspects. The whole plot of Charlie being an anger management therapist is only there so they have an excuse to bring a bunch of quirky characters together in an attempt to squeeze out some laughs, which is something that never ends up happening.
These characters include Ed (Barry Corbin), an old man that appears to be racist and homophobic, Lacey (Noureen DeWulf), someone whose anger shows quite clearly, Nolan (Derek Richardson), a soft-spoken man who is attracted to Lacey, and Patrick (Michael Arden), who is constantly butting heads with Ed. With such an eclectic group of characters, you would think that something funny would happen, even if it was accidental, but sadly, they mostly sit around and set each other up for bad jokes.
The show also deals with Charlie’s relationships with women, something that Sheen’s previous show dealt with a lot, but this time around, the writing is just not nearly as good. Couple this with the lack of laughs and you have a show that comes across as just another one of the several forgettable, unfunny comedies that plague the airwaves. That’s not to say that it didn’t make me crack a smile once or twice, because it did, but when watching a show like this, nobody hopes to merely crack a smile. They want to laugh out loud, whether it’s a big, hardy belly laugh or even a chuckle, neither of which the show provides.
As for Sheen himself, he seems very comfortable in the role. It almost seems as if he’s simply continuing to play the same character from his previous show, except with weaker material. His character is once again a womanizer who somehow gets into strange situations, such as a one-night stand that he becomes forced to date or attempting a sleep deprivation session with his group. In the right hands, these could have given us some decent laughs, but the writers just don’t seem to know what to do other than go for the cheapest laughs possible. The showrunners have even opted to include a laughtrack just to let you know when the “funny” parts are.
All that being said, there must have been some people out there who found the show funny enough as it’s been picked up for an additional 90 (!) episodes, which is rather impressive given the mostly bad reviews it’s been getting. That’s one hell of a contract where you start with ten and end up getting 90 more. Maybe it’s simply one that will take a little while to find its footing. A lot of shows aren’t particularly good in their first season, but after some retooling in between season one and two, it can come back quite strong. However, making a judgment call based on these ten episodes, it’s just not worth taking the time to watch.
Turning now to the technical aspects of the Blu-Ray, the show is presented in a 1080p, HD widescreen transfer that is rather sharp for a television program. Likewise, the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is loud and lucid. It’s a simple show, but as far as the presentation is concerned, it looks fantastic.
The 2-disc set comes with the following special features:
- Anger Mismanagement (Gags)
- “Charlie’s Baby” – New Interview with Charlie Sheen
- “Behind the Couch:” Meet Charlie’s Patients – On Set with the Therapy Group
As far as extras go, these aren’t that bad. The two featurettes provide a lot of interviews with the cast and crew discussing how the show came together as well as who the characters are. The gag reel is somewhat amusing and actually provides more laughs than the actual show managed to do in ten episodes. These are just about the best extras you could get for a season that’s as short as this.
Despite the high quality presentation and the decent set of extras, this release is still not recommendable because of the show itself. If you tend to laugh very easily, particularly at really dumb jokes, then this might be right up your alley, but for everyone else who likes a little thought put into their sitcoms, then you’ll probably react to the show in the exact same manner that I did… with absolute silence.
This review is based on a copy of the Blu-Ray that we received for reviewing purposes.
Anger Management is severely lacking in the laughs needed to sustain a sitcom like this, nor does it help that when the writers do go for laughs, they aim for the cheapest ones possible.