Success brings imitiation, and the success of Two-and-a-Half Men has apparently brought us 20 Good Years. Not that the odd couple concept is new (it goes back at last as far as The Odd Couple, of course), but 20 Good Years is more of the moment than feeling versed in a classic study of sitcommery. John Lithgow plays an overconfident, egotistical doctor forced into semiretirement (giving him a life of semileisure a la the Charlie Sheen 2.5 Men character) while Jeffrey Tambor, playing a judge (as he did in his Hill Street Blues days, although dressed differently this time), is the nebbish who by the end of the first episode has gone through a major break-up (like the events that brought Jon Cryer into Sheen’s life… or brought Felix Unger into Oscar Madison’s life, for that matter.) And they realize that their years are running out, and they are off to have adventures.
This is not a show of subtlety, this is a show where emotional realism is set aside in order to play to the humor… which isn’t particularly funny. The talented Lithgow has free range, going broad, but has not much to bounce off, no one to react to. Tambor, who has done beautiful smooth jobs before in characters like Hank Kingsley and George Bluth, is pulled so inward on this character that there’s no place to bounce, nothing for him to show.
There are some people who judge works on how they think they’ll do businesswise, and I try not to be one of those… but I am left curious. What was the goal here? Who is supposed to watch this? It’s combinations of retirement themesÂ for it’s 60-something year old stars with brainless comedy like one ould usually aim a younger crowd leaves me mystified by this show as a business move.