- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Nik Wallenda has nothing on Charlie Sheen. Sure, the famed high-wire artist thrilled millions as the first person to cross Niagara Falls on a tightrope.

But that amazing feat lasted a mere half-hour, and Mr. Wallenda, had he lost his footing, would have been saved by a protective tether. Besides, the prayer-reciting daredevil called for holy reinforcement as he took his lofty stroll.

By contrast, the hell-raising Mr. Sheen has tempted fate without a net for decades. There’s been nothing to defend him from his death-defying appetites but tiger blood, Adonis DNA and endless bluster.

That is the tightrope Charlie Sheen cavorts on, 24/7, where at any moment he is poised to upstage everything else - as he did a year ago with his stormy exit from “Two and a Half Men,” complete with his public rantings and his chaotic “Torpedo of Truth” concert tour.

Now, never really gone, Mr. Sheen is back. He has a new comedy series, “Anger Management,” which premieres at 9 p.m. Thursday on FX with a pair of back-to-back episodes.

Nominally based on the 2003 Adam Sandler-Jack Nicholson movie, the series has been tailored to fit Mr. Sheen’s image and comfort zone. Once applauded as a talented actor, here he presents yet another version of the self-styled Charlie Sheen-esque character he played as Charlie Crawford on “Spin City” and Charlie Harper on “Men.”

On “Anger Management,” he plays a psychologist named — wait for it — Charlie Goodson.

Goodson is a former up-and-coming baseball player who, in a fit of rage during a game, tried to break a bat across his leg and messed up his knee.

What else could he do for a post-athletic career but become an anger management therapist?

With that, the series takes a step beyond the nonstop hedonism Charlie Harper championed on “Men.” Along with enjoying good times, Charlie Goodson is trying to transform his motley clients, and himself, into less angry people.

In short, “Anger Management” displays a bit of heart, and surprisingly (since it’s on the edgy FX cable channel, not CBS), turns out to be tamer than “Men.”

Goodson has a 15-year-old daughter he adores, a sassy ex-wife he lets push his buttons, and, in addition to the paying members of his therapy group (shades of “The Bob Newhart Show”), he also volunteers at a penitentiary to work with cartoonish hardened inmates.

Meanwhile, he realizes he still has anger issues and decides to seek counseling for himself.

“Why do you need a therapist? You are a therapist,” his neighbor asks.

Goodson responds this way: “Did you ever see a tow truck hauling a tow truck?”

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