Stars: Ashton Kutcher, Jon Cryer, Angus T. Jones, Conchata Ferrell, Holland Taylor
Writers: Chuck Lorre, Lee Aronsohn, Eddie Gorodetsky, Jim Patterson
Director: James Widdoes
Network: CBS, airs Monday nights
Original Telecast: September 19, 2011
One of the most dysfunctional firings in the history of television involved TWO AND A HALF MEN and Charlie Sheen – a fall-out last year that paved the way for a Sheen-less Season 9. What could have been an absolute disaster has been handled rather wisely by CBS, creating a buzz with the addition of Ashton Kutcher to the show, and surprisingly, finding a way to extend the franchise for a few more years if the new comedy pairing of Kutcher and the show’s long-running co-star Jon Cryer actually clicks (and it seems like it does).
The big question mark was how Sheen’s Charlie Harper character would be written out of the show. We knew he died, but was it a definitive death?
As it stands, there was no body (only pieces) and the questionable Rose (Melanie Lynskey) claims he fell onto on oncoming commuter train after they got married (and he cheated on her). If the Kutcher experiment fails, it’s clear the “real” Charlie Harper is somewhere locked in an undisclosed location ala MISERY by Rose only to come back if things go to hell on the show.
The episode begins with a funeral – a very cold and shallow one with nary a dry eye and then proceeds to find a proper transition into the new show with Kutcher as billionaire Walden Schmidt.
We do get a nice moment between Alan (Cryer) and the urn of Charlie. We also learn the Malibu beach house, even though it was left to Alan, has to be sold because he can’t keep up payments.
There are two funny cameo bits by potential buyers including John Stamos (a nod to the rumor he might replace Sheen), and former DHARMA AND GREG stars Jenna Elfman and Thomas Gibson reprising their roles from that series co-created by MEN’s Chuck Lorre.
Then Kutcher shows up as Schmidt – a heartbroken internet billionaire who tried to commit suicide and strikes up an unlikely friendship with Alan. By episode’s end, he’s decided to buy the house.
The death of Charlie stuff at the beginning is painfully unfunny. We don’t expect sentimentality on this show, but it was rather emotionless and dry. Anyone whose seen the heartfelt death of Phil Hartman on NEWSRADIO knows how to balance the funny with the tragic (then again, that was a real, not figurative death).
Only when Kutcher enters, does the show seem to be ready to take things in another direction. Kutcher is a bit of a sad sack wuss, but he’s still a ladies man – which may allow him to seamlessly pick up the Charlie Harper mantle of bedding women, but without seeming as sleazy as his predecessor.
While never a fan of TWO AND A HALF MEN, I’ve found when I turn it on it was always worth a laugh or two. Beating the dead horse of the show after Sheen’s departure seemed like a desperate move, but again, kudos to CBS, Lorre and his writing team for finding a way to reinvent the series. Fans are going to have to get over that Sheen is no longer there for this to last the long-term, but with this okay series premiere, the potential is certainly there.
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Article:TV Review – TWO AND A HALF MEN – Season 9 premiere – “Nice To Meet You, Walden Schmidt”