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Anger Management: Season One(TV) (2012)
No synopsis for Anger Management: Season One.
For more about Anger Management: Season One and the Anger Management: Season One Blu-ray release, see Anger Management: Season One Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on December 28, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.5 out of 5.
Starring: Charlie Sheen, Selma Blair, Shawnee Smith, Noureen DeWulf, Martin Sheen, Denise Richards
» See full cast & crew
Anger Management: Season One Blu-ray Review
This show needs shock therapy.
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, December 28, 2012
On some transcontinental flight whose flightplan I've thankfully largely blocked out of my mind, I gave in to the exorbitant cost of those so-called headphones the lovely flight attendants proffer to the passengers and opted to watch the in flight "entertainment", a film that was ostensibly a comedy but which failed to provoke even one laugh from me, Anger Management. I don't think my lack of laughter had anything to do with me, for one of my strongest memories of that flight was boisterously laughing at a little Conan O'Brien short that also played, one of his silly News From the Future routines where he prognosticates with a flashlight aimed up at his face like he's telling a campfire ghost story. Conan uttered a line I literally will never forget and which caused me to laugh so hard that other passengers were looking at me like I was slightly detached from reality: "In the future robots will replace humans in dull, repetitive tasks like washing dishes and marrying J. Lo." So the moral of this story is I do have a sense of humor, and a rather good one at that, if I do say so myself (I should add that this is an opinion shared by several relatively objective outsiders, including my wife who performs regularly as a standup comedian). But much like my experience with the feature film version of Anger Management, barely a smile crossed my lips, and then only fitfully, at what is surely one of the saddest, most stale sitcoms to ever be cobbled together after a major meltdown of a once promising star. Part exploitation, part rote cliché mining, the television version of Anger Management was born of the ashes of Charlie Sheen's spectacular flameout with Two and a Half Men, a flameout which was such tabloid fodder that it virtually guaranteed a "train wreck" audience for any new project Sheen decided to pursue. That audience did indeed show up in droves for the premiere of Anger Management, but then quickly dwindled, although ratings have been high enough (barely, according to several trades) to guarantee the so-called "back 90", an episode order that will assure that this smarmy little exercise in self-concious "humor" will be playing in syndication long after it's shuffled off the basic cable coil.
The show starts out promisingly enough, with Sheen directing a rant squarely at the camera which is obviously meant to be his response to Two and a Half Men's head honcho Chuck Lorre. "You think you can fire me?," Sheen asks incredulously, then launches into a diatribe that almost—almost—includes his trademark phrase "Winning". It's a nicely self-aware and even self-mocking opening gambit, but once the conceit is revealed to simply be Sheen in character as therapist Charlie Goodson offering various scenarios to his group session, we are resolutely in standard sitcom territory, a region which this show never even struggles very mightily to escape.
In short order we're introduced to Charlie's amiable ex-wife Jennifer (Shawnee Smith of the Saw franchise and television's Becker), his precocious daughter Sam (Daniela Bobadilla), and in one of the series' most questionable elements (at least from the "first do no harm" world of professional health workers), Kate (Selma Blair), who turns out to be both Charlie's friend with benefits and his personal therapist. Also on hand in the probably intentional irony department is another famous sitcom flameout, Brett Butler (Grace Under Fire) as a—wait for it—bartender, of all things.
The laziness of this enterprise is probably its most surprising feature, especially considering the relatively high caliber of at least some of the talent involved. This show is so completely derivative in virtually every way that counts that one almost expects to see Xerox as its corporate sponsor. Older viewers may remember the much superior first CBS sitcom with Bob Newhart, where Bob was a therapist who regularly interacted with his group of misfit patients, but other, younger viewers may also recall the sadly unremembered Judd Hirsch sitcom Dear John, where Hirsch played a hapless divorced man who joins a group therapy session full of—yep, you guessed it— misfits. Either of these previous series had more laughs during their credits sequences than Anger Management can muster in most of its full length episodes (I exaggerate of course, but not by much).
There's obviously a lot riding on Sheen, but he seems strangely snide about his character and his whole approach to the show, leaving any real interest to the vast supporting cast. Here, Anger Management does pretty well, offering good little bits by virtually everyone, including the band of (yes, yes) misfits in the group therapy sessions. The show doesn't shy away from stunt casting, offering none other than Martin Sheen as Charlie's Dad in one of the most labored pieces of writing this already straining series undertakes during its first season. To see the writers wring pretzels out of setups in order to deliver a punch line where Charlie says he can't see his Dad as President is an exercise in viewer anguish. That said, Sheen pere does one hell of both a Jimmy Cagney and a Marlon Brando iimpersonation. (Charlie's ex Denise Richards also shows up in an episode.)
One of the most shocking things about Anger Management is Sheen's appearance, especially since he's not especially shy about stripping down to his skivvies (and even beyond) in more than a few episodes. He's wan, looks drawn and as revealed by one of the featurettes included as a supplement, has begun smoking again after a long hiatus, something he tells the camera has made him feel "a lot better". It probably is better than some of the other substances Sheen grew infamous for ingesting, but as with most things (including this largely lamentable sitcom), it's all a matter of degrees. What we have here is a narcissistic "star" surrounded by a gaggle of perfectly agreeable supporting actors who are trying their darnedest to make something out of glop. It's a dirty job, and some of them may be wondering if they've signed up for a completely different type of rehab.
Anger Management: Season One Blu-ray, Video Quality
Anger Management: Season One is presented on Blu-ray courtesy of Lionsgate Films with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 1.78:1. This is a pretty standard looking high definition presentation, one that really fails to ever pop magnificently but which reproduces the small scale "charms" of the series to a relatively decent degree. Colors are decent and accurate looking (though as noted above Sheen is often pretty pallid looking). The show rarely opts for extreme close-ups and so fine detail is always at the more or less middling level. Despite this being a progressive presentation there are several quasi-combing artifacts that crop up when characters gesticulate madly (which they're wont to do rather regularly). The image is decently clear and generally well defined within the midrange environment that the camera setups allow, though the overall look of the show is really rather surprisingly soft for a 2012 outing.
Anger Management: Season One Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Anger Management: Season One features a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track that may seem like more than a bit of overkill for such a sonically unambitious show, something that is only exacerbated by the ubiquitously "sweetened" laugh track, which is not just patently artificial but which becomes one of the few consistent effects (yes, effects) that spills into the side and rear channels. Some of the running gags, like angry driver Lacey's (Noureen DeWulf) journeys out onto the harried freeways of Los Angeles do at least partially open up the soundfield from its typically constrained ambience during the bulk of the show. Fidelity is fine, if nothing exceptional.
Anger Management: Season One Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Anger Management: Season One Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
There are still between one and two million people checking out Anger Management on cable, but the numbers seem to be in a downward spiral already. For any fans who have grown fond of the show, this Blu-ray set will probably be a decent enough purchase. But the rest of us may be asking ourselves, if this is "winning", what does losing look like?
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Anger Management: Season One Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Anger Management: Season One Blu-ray - November 26, 2012
Lionsgate Films has officially announced and detailed its upcoming Blu-ray release of Anger Management: Season One, whose debut episode was the most watched primetime scripted comedy series premiere in cable history. The release will be available for purchase on ...
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