Charlie vs. Ashton - The new Two and a Half Men
- September 20, 2011 1:43 PM |
- By Eli Glasner
If there was any doubt whether Charlie Sheen's leering doppelgänger Charlie Harper would return to the CBS network, the show's creator Chuck Lorre made it definitive last night. The premiere of the warlock-less Two and a Half Men began with a funeral, as Charlie's stalker-turned-wife Rose explained how he slipped in front of a subway in Paris, his body exploding like a "balloon filled with meat."
Dispatching the main-character of one of the most successful sitcoms in history in such a gruesome fashion must have been satisfying for Lorre, who Sheen once decribed as a troll, a little stupid man, a maggot and more. Not content with the image of Charlie dripping off the Metro in Paris, Lorre then added an inexplicable cameo by John Stamos who dropped by to express regret over a night of passion that began in a threesome and ended in a ménage à deux between John and Charlie.
Charlie Sheen, shown Sept. 16, is issuing cringing apologies in TV land. (Peter Kramer/NBC/Associated Press)
So, short of returning as a ghostly Jedi, Charlie Harper is gone for good. In his place, we now have Ashton Kutcher, who, after a sputtering film career, returns to his original habitat, the network sitcom. Kutcher plays Walden Schmidt, a despondent internet billionaire who decides to buy the Harper abode.
But does the guy best known for Punk'd and marrying Demi Moore have the right mojo to replace Sheen?
Well first, a reality check. Two and a Half Men is no Curb Your Enthusiasm, or Community. Groundbreaking it ain't. It's the Michelinas of sitcoms. Something cheap and comforting. And Charlie loved it. Charlie Harper was the Leisure Suit Larry of network television. A slimy scoundrel who viewers loved almost as much as Charlie loved himself.
And what does Ashton Kutcher offer? A Barry Gibb beard and his same old doofus schtick. In the opening episode they've already established that Walden is rich, attractive, well hung and dim. Women flock to him effortlessly, but he lacks Charlie's insatiable appetite. Time will tell whether this laid-back lothario will fit for fans (although ratings are a smash.)
If anything good comes out this debacle it will be giving Jon Cryer a chance to shine. Even during last night's crass-comedy fest Cryer carved out a single dignified moment, cradling the urn of his dead brother's remains, giving him one last goodbye. Compared to Ashton's dumb-and-dumber act, Cryer has some range, plus snappy comic timing and one of the best sad sack acts in the business.
And what about poor Commander Tigerblood himself, last seen stammering out good wishes at the Emmys. Nothing fades faster than an internet meme and Charlie Sheen and his Adonis DNA don't seem to be #winning anymore. While there is a chance he may return to television, the time is right for Sheen to go back to the silver screen. As one of my favourite critics suggests, Sheen has been phoning it in for a while now. Hollywood needs a new crazy man. Nicolas Cage is broke. Gary Busey is a full-time reality show. It's time for Sheen to shine. Just leave the bowling shirts at home.
What did you think of the new Two and a Half Men and the future of Charlie Sheen?
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