FX debuts its Thursday-night comedy lineup tonight, which means we’ve got good news and bad news. The good news is that Louis C.K.’s brilliant Louie is back for its third season; the bad news is that tonight also marks the debut of Anger Management, the sitcom that brings us Charlie Sheen playing yet another rogue named Charlie. This time, he’s Charlie Goodson, a former pro baseball player who’s now an anger management therapist — probably because everyone thought putting Sheen in a show called Anger Management would make for the world’s easiest ad campaign. While we don’t plan to tune in for the premiere, we are amusing ourselves with the terrible-to-middling reviews, which paint the sitcom as equal parts attention grab, public apology, and victory lap. After the jump, we’ve rounded up some of critics’ funniest observations on Sheen, Anger Management, and FX’s puzzling decision to program it alongside Louie.
“And therein lies the problem with Anger Management, everybody’s in on the joke but nobody seems to be writing any. Instead of giving Charlie Goodson anything particularly funny to say or do, the creative team simply presents premises as punch lines: Charlie was angry. Charlie was a womanizer. Charlie was a spoiled celebrity.” — Sarah Rodman, The Boston Globe
“In the first episode he threatens to beat his ex-wife’s new boyfriend with a lamp. Isn’t it funny when a guy involved in various incidents of domestic abuse plays his short temper for laughs? In the second episode, an ugly woman — the show’s term, not mine — Goodson slept with to break a slump in the minor leagues comes back to stalk him. Isn’t it funny when a guy sleeps with a woman who’s not that hot?” — Willa Paskin, Salon
“Sheen seems very much like the chastened employee who hopes for a clean slate from HR, and you can see the math scribbles also passing before his sobered eyes: ’10 episodes equals 90… 10 episodes equals 90…'” — Hank Stuever, The Washington Post
“The premise itself seems to be, not even subtextually, another middle finger extended by the actor toward his enemies and detractors and all those who fail to recognize his Martian-rock stardom, tiger blood and Adonis DNA, or who regard the fantastic money he has made in show business — a business in which he has continued during his exile comparatively to thrive — as not strictly indexed to his talent.” — Robert Lloyd, LA Times
“Two things are relatively safe bets about the new sitcom Anger Management, premiering Thursday on FX: The ratings are likely to be strong, especially for the first few episodes, and Charlie Sheen probably won’t make the American Psychological Association’s short list to keynote its next convention.” — David Wiegand, San Francisco Chronicle
“Anger Management is one of those sitcoms, which are dinosaurs in the era of the legitimately brilliant Louie, in which a pronounced laugh track is necessary to locate the punchlines.” — Chuck Bowen, Slant
“I’m open to the idea that the existence of Anger Management is the very thing that’s making Louie so wonderfully sad.” — Troy Patterson, Slate