LOS ANGELES – “The Kominsky Method” would be just another sitcom about men behaving badly if those characters weren’t also engaged in TV’s most brilliant “bromance.”
Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin had never met before creator Chuck Lorre suggested that the two veterans team up to play two longtime friends, always ready to go to bat for each other, even if they have to stop four times to urinate on their way to the plate.
“I felt strangely comfortable with Michael the minute we started working together,” Arkin said during a break from shooting the second season, which dropped this past Friday on Netflix. “As an actor, I like to touch people. I like to manhandle them. I like to play. And every once in a while, you wander into somebody who says, ‘Please don’t touch me’ and you’re dead for the next four years. But there was none of that here. It’s gotten extraordinarily comfortable for me.”
Arkin, 85, who plays a recently widowed talent agent, gets so amused by their scenes together that he’s finding it harder and harder to keep a straight face.
“I’ve worked with Steve Carell three times now, and we can’t look at each other anymore,” he said. “I can feel that same thing coming with Michael.”
The new episodes welcome some fresh faces, including Bob Odenkirk as a doctor specializing in suicidal thoughts and Paul Reiser as a former beatnik who rediscovers his passion for weed, but for my money the series could simply consist of scenes between Douglas’ Sandy and Arkin’s Norman, needling each other at their favorite steakhouse, where the waiters barely make it to their tables without the aid of walkers.
Douglas, 75, portraying a washed-up performer who pays the bills — and feeds his ego — by teaching an acting class, compares his relationship with Arkin to the one he had nearly 50 years ago with Karl Malden on “The Streets of San Francisco.”
“I watched our first scene together and believed these guys have known each other for 40 years,” he said. “That’s just the wonderful magic of, I guess, good casting.”
The fact that the discussions between the two characters revolve around Viagra, prostate exams and death add depth to the quip-heavy dialogue.
“You could bemoan the fact that aging is happening, or you can step aside and look at it as darkly comic, because inside all of us who are of a ceratin age is someone who is not the age of the person outside,” said Lorre, 67, whose credits include delinquent-driven fare like “The Big Bang Theory” and “Two and a Half Men.” “When it’s all falling apart, laugh or cry. I choose to laugh.”
Arkin said the result is one of the richest, most complex characters he’s ever had in a career that includes an Oscar for “Little Miss Sunshine.” “We are jumping from farce to comedy to near tragedy on an almost moment-to-moment basis,” he said. “I’m in heaven in that regard.”
Douglas, who has Oscars of his own for producing “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and starring in “Wall Street,” said he’s enjoying getting recognized for both this series, which won the Golden Globe earlier this year for best comedy, and his appearances in the Marvel movies.
“Comedy is not necessarily something I’ve done a lot of,” he said. “The chance to work with someone like Alan, who is wonderfully gifted in his timing and his understanding of it, I feel like I’m learning something new. It’s been a real treat.”
Neal Justin • 612-673-7431 •
Njustin@startribune.com Twitter: @nealjustin
The Kominsky Method
When and where: Now streaming on Netflix