I’ve always considered “Two and a Half Men” to be “Frasier” dumbed down for vulgarians threatened by genuine wit. And Charlie Sheen’s new comedy, “Anger Management” (8 and 8:30 p.m., FX), follows in that tradition.
While “Men” borrowed sibling rivalry from “Frasier,” substituting cheap penis jokes for silly asides about pinot noir, “Anger” lifts the therapeutic angle of “Frasier.” Sheen plays Charlie Goodson, a therapist who was previously a professional baseball player. He became a counselor after his own anger issues ended his playing days. He maintains a chummy relationship with his ex-wife, Jennifer (Shawnee Smith), as they cooperate to raise their sweet and precocious daughter, Sam (Daniela Bobadilla).
Charlie’s group therapy sessions allow him to offer one-liners and forced double entendres as means of encouragement to a panel of overdrawn stereotypes. They include a vain, needy gay man (Michael Arden), a resentful Vietnam vet (Barry Corbin), a delusional slacker (Derek Richardson) and a rage-filled hottie (Noureen DeWulf). Charlie does volunteer work as well, counseling prisoners who are also broadly drawn.
Charlie carries on a commitment-free sexual relationship with Kate (Selma Blair), a fellow therapist. Midway through the first episode, Charlie feels a need to consult Kate as a shrink, and the law forbidding relationships between therapists and patients threatens to put their affair on hold. For a brief moment, it looks like this could provide the kind of frustrating romantic impediment necessary to generate genuine comedy. But this is a Charlie Sheen show.
Tonight’s other highlights
• U.S. Olympics Swimming Trials (7 p.m., NBC).
• Songs from the first decade of this century set the standard on “Duets” (7 p.m., ABC).
• Opening night jitters on “Breaking Pointe” (7 p.m., CW).
• A brash hockey star flirts with disaster on “Saving Hope” (8 p.m., NBC).
• “Wipeout” (8 p.m., ABC) returns for a new season.
• Last rites on “Burn Notice” (8 p.m., USA).
• A botched investigation on “Rookie Blue” (9 p.m., ABC).
• A team of rivals on “Suits” (9 p.m., USA).
• A loss for words has real consequences on the season premiere of “Louie” (9:30 p.m., FX).