Tuesday, September 20, 2011

My "Two and a Half Men" recap: Good Lord, do these people hate Charlie Sheen

Like most people who haven't watched the CBS sitcom "Two and a Half Men" in a while, I tuned into Monday night's premiere mainly out of morbid curiosity. Yes, I wanted to see if it really started with a funeral for Charlie Harper (formerly played by the not-so-dearly-departed Charlie Sheen). And, of course, I wanted to see how they introduced new star Ashton Kutcher, who plays a broken-hearted internet billionaire improbably named Walden.
After watching the show, three main things stood out to me:

1. Kutcher, though saddled with the typical bawdy "Men" humor about threesomes and body parts, still has sitcom chops and acquitted himself about as well as can be expected.
2. The cameo by Jenna Elfman and Thomas Gibson as older, embittered versions of Dharma and Greg was genuinely surprising and funny.
3. "Two and a Half Men" show runner Chuck Lorre is still really, really mad at Charlie Sheen. Because, man, was this episode merciless toward him.
Not only did the premiere started with the rumored funeral for Charlie, but the show took every opportunity possible to skewer the character and, by extension, Sheen, whom the character more than slightly resembled. First, there was the fact that one of Charlie's trademark bowling shirts hung over the casket during the scene. That doesn't seem that bad, until you remember that, during his traveling tour of crazy, Sheen whined about the shirts during an interview. With that in mind, having a shirt on display during the opening scenes kind of smacked of a giant middle finger to Sheen. But there were more F-yous to come. Next came the slew of hateful comments from the many women attending the funeral -- many of them former "Men" guest stars (notably absent was former guest star -- and former Sheen spouse -- Denise Richards, which seems like a missed opportunity).
Then we learned that Charlie died after being pushed in front of a train by stalker/girlfriend Rose and that his body "exploded like a balloon full of meat." Oof. There's no coming back from that one.
Even later, the Sheen hate continued when Kutcher's character surprised Alan (Jon Cryer), causing him to spill Charlie's ashes -- to which Alan casually responded "I'll just Dustbust him later."
Look, I'm no fan of Sheen, but this was fascinatingly brutal. Clearly, despite Sheen's half-assed show of respect to this show's cast and crew during Sunday's Emmy telecast, there's no love lost here.
I'm not sure I'll tune in for any follow-up episodes. Kutcher, though engaging, can't really save a show that's become complacent in its tiresome misogyny and crudeness. And if Lorre and co. are going to continue to use the show as a vehicle to vent their spleens at Sheen, well, that will only be interesting for so long. Soon, the "Two and a Half Men" sideshow will be over, and the show will have to start trying to succeed on its own merits.
Good luck with that.

1 comment:

Bill Scurry said...

I'm glad to be seeing write-ups like this again. The TV wasteland has been unbearable without it.