Tuesday, August 9, 2011

One and a Half Men

I've mentioned before that I don't really watch television, but there are a few shows I'll usually sit in on if someone happens to be watching. One of them is--or, at least, was--Two and a Half Men.

Lowbrow yet clever, tasteless yet tastefully so, Men is one of those rare shows that (as far as I've seen, anyhow) can pull off juvenile and raunchy without ever resorting to disgusting and personally offensive humor as The Simpsons and Family Guy often do. If the show is funny, it's because of the snappy one-liners and the fun banter between these these slightly-larger-than-life characters; the comedy flows naturally from the characters being themselves. Too often in television it seems like the characters are merely vehicles for the jokes the writers want to make, but I've never gotten that sense from any of the occasional episodes I've seen of Two and a Half Men over the last eight years.

That being said, most of the enjoyment I got out of Men was from watching Charlie Sheen play Charlie Sheen. I don't pay much attention to the personal lives of celebrities, so I can't say with any kind of certainty, but Sheen looks far too comfortable in his role on the show for there not to be any striking similarities between actor and character. The problem is that real-life Charlie got "pretend" Charlie into serious trouble, and now he's going to be replaced by a character played by Ashton Kutcher of That '70s Show fame.

Yes, we'll miss Charlie Sheen. Yes, this will change the dynamic of the show. No, this is not what bothers me. What bothers me is the spoileriffic news of how Sheen's character gets written out of the show.

Spoiler time?

He falls off a subway platform in Paris and gets hit by a train. I don't know all of the details, but the morning radio talk show I awoke to yesterday had just enough time to mention something about a "meat explosion" before I hit the snooze and rolled over. Bleaugh.

I'm willing to hold off on complaints and criticism until I've actually seen the episode where Kutcher's character steps in and the full story is revealed, but from the info that's available, it seems like the show is suddenly a vehicle for the cast and/or crew's hostile feelings toward Sheen after his verbal insanity that gripped the Internet for a few weeks. If it's handled with some sort of irreverent respect for the character, it could be a hysterical episode and a worthwhile sendoff for Charlie. I'm just concerned it's going to be one big throwaway gag at the expense of a character's life, which doesn't bode well for the episodes to come. Changing the characters is one thing, but changing the paradigm of what is funny and acceptable is another thing entirely.

We'll see how things turn out. Maybe the show was already spiraling off in an unpleasant direction. Maybe the other characters were long overdue for some time in the Sheen-free spotlight. I haven't been following the show closely enough to tell you. I'm just hoping that this all works out well for cast, crew, and viewers...or that Ashton Kutcher is about to have a fantastic laugh when he reveals that Charlie Sheen is still on the show and we've all just been Punk'd.

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