With all eyes watching this highly publicized transition of characters, will Chuck Lorre be able to reinvent his hit CBS sitcom with a new character serving as the lead, all while still maintaining the same type of quality storytelling that the series’ fans have grown to expected?
And, more importantly, will Alan (Jon Cryer) and Jake’s (Angus T. Jones) roles change now that an internet billionaire owns Charlie Harper’s house?
After months of debating, the potential future of Two and a Half Men will be revealed in the season 9 premiere.
Despite the fact that the Two and a Half Men season 9 premiere isn’t a true representation of what the series will become without Charlie Sheen on board, what is presented is a cringe-worthy attempt at Chuck Lorre trying to satisfy a childish need to have the final word in one of television’s most public feuds.
With a poorly realized opening that awkwardly presents the funeral of Charlie Harper as a disgustingly humorous soiree, all hopes of Lorre competently executing the extremely difficult transition from Harper to Walden Schmidt (Ashton Kutcher) were lost, as the inability to even acknowledge the importance of the character in the series lead to a flurry of STD jokes, and a disturbing acceptance by all to a murder confession.
In a surprisingly brief moment of humanity, Alan (Jon Cryer) eventually provided a much deserved eulogy to the character that helped make Two and a Half Men the television hit that it is (or was). Unfortunately, this moment served to be the only realistic response to the grave themes presented in the premiere.
Making sure that the brilliantly conceived idea of tackling the topic of death remained throughout the 30-minute comedic sitcom, Lorre decided that the best way to introduce Ashton Kutcher to the series was with a failed suicide attempt and a haphazard backstory.
With the general consensus amongst the series’ many fans that Kutcher is unable to capably serve as the new series lead, Lorre never once attempted to prove the vocal majority wrong. Instead of focusing on creating a new character in Schmidt and, in turn, reinvent certain elements of the series’ appeal to viewers, Lorre chooses to introduce him as a distraught, heart-broken billionaire… that will happily have sex with any woman (or women) willing to keep him company.
In that respect, it feels like Lorre’s decision to axe Sheen from the series was never followed up with the appropriate discussion about how the show will grow and evolve through this debacle. The question about replacing Charlie Sheen on Two and a Half Men was never whether or not they could replace him; it was always about how they would replace him. In an age when television has elevated itself to become a beautiful storytelling medium, audiences have grown to expect a certain level of respect from series creators.
While simply replacing Charlie Harper with the characteristically similar Walden Schmidt allows the writers to continue with minimal changes to the actual thematic execution of Two and a Half Men, it fails to give its audience the respect it deserves, by providing them with the opportunity to find a new reason to enjoy what the series currently represents, not what it used to be.
For all intents and purpose, Lorre has decided against using the Two and a Half Men season 9 premiere to build a new foundation – from which the series can continue. Instead, the ability to publicly ridicule Charlie Sheen through his now-murdered character Charlie Harper served as the driving force of this episode.
In that respect, Lorre has won: Charlie Sheen (through Charlie Harper) is an STD riddled, panty wearing, exploding bag of meat. Congratulations. But now what? What happens next? What will the series now become?
As it currently stands, Two and a Half Men appears to be poorly realized copy of the original. Despite CBS being generally known for securing high ratings for all of its comedies – no matter the quality – one has to ask themselves how much longer this series can last the way it is, especially when a series creator is willing to sacrifice quality to simply “one-up” their enemy.
Two and a Half Men airs Mondays @9pm on CBS
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