TNT’s Men of a Certain Age takes a very depressing turn in “The Pickup,” with two of the three guys’ lives heading in the wrong direction. Terry (Scott Bakula) is letting work slip as he looks for women to sleep with to help take his mind off of Erin (Melinda McGraw) dumping him. Even his surprise 50th birthday party is a miserable affair for him. Things come to a head when Terry finally pushes Marcus (Brian J. White) too far, and Marcus slugs Terry before quitting the dealership. Owen (Andre Braugher) refuses to let Terry quit, too, telling him he needs to grow up and clean up the mess he causes Owen by prompting Marcus to leave. Meanwhile, Joe’s (Ray Romano) golf game is suffering, and he allows himself to get pulled back into the gambling world.
A gambling addiction has long plagued Joe, and while addiction is something that must be battled long after the habits stop, and relapse frequently occurs, it is sad that it is happening to Joe again. He works so hard to avoid anything that might tempt him, which is not easy for him. But by being a good friend to Manfro (Jon Manfrellotti) and helping him out while Manfro undergoes chemo, Joe is drawn back in. It’s a tough call to make, because to remove temptation, something right for his life, Joe must abandon a friend in his hour of need, which is not a very nice thing to do. Is staying clean more important than the care one has for a close friend?
Neither option is appealing, and Joe doesn’t really make the choice, which is where he gets into trouble. By being a half-hearted friend to Manfro, Joe isn’t really being there for him as he needs to be, nor is he avoiding the triggers of his condition. Manfro has to convince Joe to do the favors Joe is doing, and Joe only somewhat fights back. One could argue Manfro isn’t being a very good friend by putting Joe in these situations in the first place, but Manfro is sick and suffering, so he likely isn’t thinking things through all that clearly. He needs errands run, and he asks Joe to do it. Simple as that, to Manfro. Not so simple to Joe.
This is probably why Joe’s golf game isn’t going too well. To play any sport focus is a primary component, or so I hear. Joe’s focus is on Manfro and on his own gambling addiction, rather than the game. While it’s too bad Roy (Damien Leake) isn’t asking the right questions to figure out why Joe isn’t doing so well, as he is the one really seeing the effects, it’s not like Roy is really a friend, either. So it looks like Joe is losing his coach, his best chance at making it onto the Senior Tour. The addiction is costing Joe yet another thing he really cares about. He needs help badly.
Too bad Joe isn’t able to draw enough strength from Albert (Braeden Lemasters). Albert is inspired, with his father’s help, to overcome his own anxieties and take the stage to perform with his band at school. The performance is a rousing success, and for a minute, it appears Joe will be inspired in turn by Albert. And he is, to a degree. But instead of taking Albert’s lesson and applying it towards life, he only tries to use it for golf. He should take another look at his son and see that Albert uses Joe’s advice, which is geared towards golf, in everything. If Joe brings the right attitude towards the gambling problem, maybe he stands a chance at escaping yet again. His determination kick the habit cannot be at half strength.