Thursday’s first half hour of Anger Management covered just about everything it could. The second fell off a cliff.
Early on in the episode we find Charlie in his local bar dating bimbos who can barely recite their ABCs. His sexy young date is ordering her drinks by color. When his ex-wife shows up he announces that good looking people are attracted to each other and he is simply a tool of evolution. You can see the ugly date set up coming from a mile away.
We flip from Charlie and the beautiful people at the bar to another of Charlie’s in-home therapy sessions. Charlie announces that another new patient is about to arrive and a few acidic comments are tossed around by the group when a knock is heard at the door. Bickering between sex pot Lacey and Queen Patrick has everyone set up for the arrival of a new hot looking chick. Charlie opens the door and finds an unattractive middle aged woman standing in the doorway. Let’s be real, she isn’t run away screaming ugly, but she isn’t a beauty queen.
Charlie invites her in and begins the usual interrogation. We soon know her name is Mel (Kerri Kenney) and that she is from a little town called Beloit, Wisconsin. What a coincidence. Charlie remembers Beloit quite well. They had a Single-A baseball team he used to play against when he was in the minor leagues. He also remembers a little Diner named Nate’s that had some great apple pie. How about that, Mel remembers a baseball player from the opposing team that told her she was the prettiest girl in Beloit and who took her out one night for a tremendous one night stand. Funny thing was, she never heard from that baseball player again.
Charlie starts to develop amnesia right about this point. Suddenly he can’t remember Beloit quite so well and come to think of it, he’s allergic to apple pie. Mel gives Charlie a few nudges to help his memory. She lets him know she’s been looking for that baseball player for sixteen years. During that time she has had gastric bypass surgery, plastic surgery and just about every other kind of surgery you can think of. She’s gone from a huge Macy’s day parade balloon to an almost normal looking woman all in the hopes that her baseball Prince Charming would someday return to Beloit.
It just so happens that in the past year or so Mel has discovered the existence of the fabled Slumpbuster. It turns out that when a baseball player is in a particularly nasty slump, myth has it that if they sleep with the ugliest woman they can find it will break their slump. Once broken, they will go on a hitting streak and great things will happen for them. Now everyone knows that baseball players are superstitious and that things such as Slumpbusters are imaginary ways to keep them going during hard times.
In Charlie’s case, however, right after his night of shame with Mel, his career took off. He started hitting like crazy and made it into the big leagues. He never had a second thought about Mel and his night of Slumpbusting.
What gives this story any legs is that Charlie now has a conscience and feels horrible about how he treated Mel all those years ago. He also gets caught in a situation that forces him to tell his daughter Sam that Mel is his girlfriend. For the viewer, the hook is that Charlie has to date an ugly chick – oh my God! For Charlie this is the worst of all possible situations. Charlie’s wife Jennifer is wasting no opportunities as Charlie goes through relationship motions with Mel to humiliate Charlie as she runs around with a camera capturing Charlie in every compromising position with Mel that she can. Everything immediately goes up on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and any other social media site she can find, even the Society of Psychiatrists or some such thing.
The sad thing about this episode is that there isn’t a great deal of humor to be found in it. If anything it is mean and more uncomfortable than anything else. They manage to dredge up fat person jokes and lap band surgery jokes and plain discomfort jokes, but when it comes to the bottom line there isn’t a lot of fun to be had. Mel gets to believe for a short time that Charlie is her boyfriend and interacts with Sam and Jennifer in a bead making session, but ultimately Charlie admits he was a jerk, he apologizes and everyone goes on their way. The saving grace is that they buried this episode in with the opening episode so everyone would overlook it.
If I had to score this episode on its own merits, I’d give it a C-