Anger Management: “Charlie Tries Sleep Deprivation” (Episode 1.03)Photo courtesy of Prashant Gupta, FX TV Reviews
The premiere night of Anger Management let a lot of people down. In fact, it let everyone down. It’s simply not an FX show. Charlie Sheen and crew feel like they belong back on his old Two and a Half Men network, but not in a prime slot. Instead they belong in the TV graveyard of late Friday or Saturday night.
“Charlie Tries Sleep Deprivation” centers on the idea that withholding sleep from people (and his patients) will lower inhibitions and the truth will come out. He gets the idea when his ex-wife comes stumbling in after a trip with their daughter and hasn’t slept in countless hours. What starts off as an intriguing notion quickly turns annoying.
Watching actors act sleep-deprived is worse than actors acting drunk. Over time thespians have become naturals at feigning drunkenness on screen, but there are still those unbelievable moments when you think, “That would never happen to a drunk me.” Maybe it’s because none of the Anger Management actors have ever been truly sleep-deprived (aside from Sheen, who probably spent more nights than I can imagine coked out of his mind), but they all came across as whiny kids instead of the adults they’re supposed to be.
Even if the overall story was substantial, the little moments still didn’t add up. The dynamic in the therapy group is more than hit-and-miss. Nolan’s obsession with the oversexed Lacey is understandable, but too cliché. He’s a funny guy who deserves his own backbone within the show. Patrick, on the other hand, is a clever and witty character that sprinkles delight over a dreary show. He’s used in the proper amount, but unfortunately any more screen time would make him just another pitiful character. The same goes for Selma Blair’s Kate. She’s snarky and with the proper writing could fit into any other FX show. Unfortunately the writing on this show is too simple for any real magic to come out of any of the characters.
The show was picked up by FX for 10 episodes with the hopes of being a ratings hit. While it does get more viewers than most of our favorite shows, perhaps the allure of Sheen will wear off and this might be a one-and-done series. Sheen was great in Two and a Half Men (in terms of getting viewers over to CBS), but this show isn’t working for him. Once Anger Management gets its plug pulled, I think it’s time for Charlie Sheen to play Charlie the recovering drug user trying to get his life back on track. He should be able to do that quite well.