In 2011, Charlie Sheen lost his mind. His alcohol and drug abuse led to a series of meltdowns which eventually cost him his spot on television’s hottest sitcom. He was fired from Two and a Half Men but that didn’t keep him down. He then went on tour, further displaying his insanity in a “stand up comedy” routine. He filmed himself in a series of confession-like web videos. His slogan “winning” was printed on t-shirts and he became the new Tom Cruise, just plain nutty. In 2012, Sheen sort of bounced back with Anger Management, a harmless sitcom with two apparent missions, to entertain audiences and to fatten Sheen’s wallet. FX succeeded in the latter.
The series is loosely based on the 2003 film of the same name starring Jack Nicholson and Adam Sandler. In the series, Sheen plays Dr. Charlie Goodson, a former baseball player turned anger management therapist. He has a group of patients who each have their own quirks and idiosyncrasies. Each brings with them, heavy psychological issues coupled with predictable humor.
Charlie has an ex-wife Jennifer (Shawnee Smith) and a daughter Sam (Daniela Bobadilla), both of whom he has a fairly decent relationship with. He has a sexy friend with benefits in Dr. Kate Wales played seductively by Selma Blair. The women in Charlie’s life keep him grounded, something the man clearly needs both on camera and off. Shawnee Smith plays Jennifer as a feisty ex-wife to Charlie. The awkwardness in their relationship is practically non-existent, a absolute bonus since they both raise their daughter. They are unaware of his sex buddy Kate. Jennifer thinks she’s a lesbian and this provides some cute chuckles.
The roster of patients in Charlie’s group are amusing but a bit over-the-top at times. There is Lacey (Noureen DeWulf), an outspoken party girl who has no shame in insulting the other patients. There’s Patrick (Michael Arden), a gay gentleman who wears sarcasm like it’s a cashmere scarf. Nolan (Derek Richardson) is a timid young guy who is way too harsh on himself but provides some of the show’s best laughs. Finally, there’s Ed (Barry Corbin), a crusty old Vietnam vet who gets great pleasure from bashing the other patients. In true sitcom fashion, this motley crew of nuts provides variety and color in the Charlie’s world. Each patient has something to offer and in each episode, Charlie learns as much from them as they from him.
With such a mixed bag of patients and the three women in Charlie’s life, anger is something the man might come across pretty regularly. Each episode has Charlie navigating the shaky waters of life with minor chuckles along the way. The laugh track is pretty generous with every punchline. The sets, characters, script and tone all feel like residual Two and a Half Men plots tailored specifically for Sheen. His character in Anger Management is simply, a watered down version of his Two and a Half Men character. Both men are self-absorbed with many issues brought on by their questionable actions. It’s quite obvious Sheen had very little to do in terms preparation for the role.
Anger Management is not a terrible show but it’s not a great one either. Sheen anchors it well with his free-spirited playboy “character”. The scenes he shares with Selma Blair are particularly fun. They have a truly wonderful chemistry and their scenes are definitely worth checking out. The group therapy scenes are cute here and there but for the most part, they feel scripted and forced, not a good thing for a sitcom or any piece of entertainment.
Blu-ray Bonus Features
The bonus features for Anger Management: Season One are simply alright. There is a gag reel entitled Anger Mismanagement. There is a new interview with Charlie Sheen entitledCharlie’s Baby and lastly, there are interviews with the cast and this is entitled Behind the Couch.