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Too young to feel so old

So tell me, how are you enjoying the new series "Men of a Certain Age" thus far?

The show is the return to television of Ray Romano (age 51), whom everybody loved the last time we saw him on the small screen. Contrast that with his TV wife Patricia Heaton (age ... MYOB), is already in her second post-"Raymond" TV series, this one called "The Middle" on ABC.

"The Middle" is doing far better in the ratings, by the way, than is "Hank," which stars Kelsey Grammer (age 54) who was Heaton's co-star in "Back To You." Another star of that series was Southern Oregon's own Ty Burrell (age 42), who now co-stars on ABC's early season hit "Modern Family" — which follows "The Middle" which follows "Hank" on Wednesday nights.

But we digress.

Back to "Men Of A Certain Age," which stars Romano, Andre Braugher (age 47) and Scott Bakula (55 ... 55? Really?) as college buddies who never grew up and never stopped being best friends.

They're at a crossroads in their lives, which we know because the car they're driving in is pictured at a deserted crossroads filled with dust and sagging telephone poles. What will TV and movies do once we all have cell phones and there's no need for dropping wires? And where will the birds gather to sit and mock us?

These are the sort of questions I imagine Romano, Braugher (so great in "Homicide") and Bakula (ditto in "Quantum Leap") will be asking each other. Braugher's character is the son of the owner of a car dealership. Bakula's is the playboy who still picks up (literally) younger women. And Romano is, well, something like Ray Barone ... only without Patricia Heaton to slap him upside the head.

The ads for "Certain Age" have been running for more than a month on TNT and elsewhere and, by now, we've been able to gather a great deal of information about the characters. Just wait until the show actually starts!

And wait we must ... since "Men of a Certain Age" doesn't actually show its first episode until Dec. 7. By that point, we might actually be tired of them chatting in the roadside diner and telling Braugher he fainted when his head actually hit the dashboard after a minor car bump.

Heck, by then, Patricia Heaton might have time to star in two or three more series.


Speaking of men of a certain age who aren't going quietly in that good night, there's Jay Leno ... age 59.

Leno's new nightly show is sinking faster than the U.S.S. Minnow; so, while speaking to the press the other day, he let slip that ... if NBC wants him to ... he'd be happy to reclaim his seat as host of "The Tonight Show." What he expects that would mean for Conan O'Brien (46) is anyone's guess.

Leno said all the right things about how great a guy O'Brien was; although, you know, not SO great that it wouldn't keep Leno from kicking out of his current job.

In "The Late Shift," the great book about the battle to replace Johnny Carson (no longer aging), reporter Bill Carter (age to be determined) told the story (later depicted in the inevitable movie) of how Leno hid in a broom closet, listening in on NBC bigwigs attempt to decide between Leno and David Letterman (62) as Carson's replacement.

Leno used the inside intel to ingratiate himself with the bosses and Letterman went off to CBS where — despite current troubles of his own — his show is beating O'Brien's in the ratings. All of this sounds like fodder for a sequel for Carter, which is exactly what he was asked by Craig Ferguson (age 47), whose show follows Letterman.

In the meantime, Jay Leno appears to want a new job ... even if it belongs to someone else.


Speaking of men of a certain age doing the same job, we turn to CBS, which has a great track record with shows that have "C" and "S" in them.

"NCIS" and its spinoff "NCIS: Los Angeles" continue to lead the charts; and now — in a November sweeps event and/or stunt the network hasn't pulled since Jessica Fletcher turned up on Hawaii to clear Thomas Magnum of murder — all three of it's "Crime Scene Investigation" series will combine over three nights to solve a crime.

The plot for "CSI:Trilogy" will start in Miami, where David Caruso (age 53) will remove his sunglasses multiple times before deciding he won't need them in New York, where he seeks the help of Captain Dan ... err, Gary Sinese (54).

By the time Caruso and his sunglasses make it to Las Vegas to help Laurence Fishburne (48) wrap up the case on Thursday, the trail should have left enough droppings for an entire episode of "The Soup."

We get it, it's sweeps month. But when you have three shows as successful as those in the "CSI" universe, what's the point of cast-intermingling? There's no need for "Special Episode of Blossom" when folks already are glued to their sets.


Finally, speaking of men and women of a certain age glued to their sets, a new study has found ... better sit down for this (unless you already are seated) ... that men and women who watched television for more than two hours a day did worse on all muscular fitness tests compared with those who watched less than two hours a day.

Who knew?

"One of the most startling findings in our research was that about half of the young adults studied were watching TV at least two hours per day," study author Niko Paalanne said in a news release. "That equates to nearly 15 hours per week."

The stunning thing here is that teenagers and young adults still watch TV at all. Of course, the study was done in Finland — where, after "CSI: Helsinki," there isn't much to watch.

Mail Tribune news editor Robert Galvin (somewhere between 20 and 60) writes about television for Tempo. He can be reached at rgalvin@mailtribune.com