The new season of the post-Charlie Sheen era begins with a funeral for Sheen’s eponymously named character. The funeral was not nearly as funny as one would have hoped considering the proceedings were attended by a host of beautiful but scorned women who all wanted to make sure that Charlie was indeed dead. Instead the entire segment came off like public therapy for show creator Chuck Lorre. It was mean spirited and a bit angry in my estimation. Sadly it wasn’t all that funny aside from a little exchange between Russell (Martin Mull) and Alan Harper (Jon Cryer) about money that Charlie owed Mull’s character for supplying a boatload of pharmaceuticals.
The show did get a few chuckles out of me with the segment where Charlie’s mom (Holland Taylor) was showing his house to prospective buyers in the form of John “Uncle Jesse” Stamos and Jenna Elfman and Thomas Gibson playing their DHARMA & GREG characters (another show by Lorre by the way). Stamos in particular made a good impression recounting a tale of sexual deviancy that he shared with Charlie in the living room of that house.
The remaining cast all were serviceable: Jon Cryer was good at his neurotic, sad sack schtick, Taylor was her usual witty self and Conchata Farrell was also pretty funny with her snarky asides. The kid has grown up to be a little giant which should probably precipitate a name change for the show.
And then there was Ashton Kutcher. I know it was just one episode but this Walden Schmidt character is terrible. Is he supposed to be mildly mentally challenged? If not then the director needs to have a chat with him about toning down the social awkwardness of his character. He is a billionaire who looks like a male model…behaving like he just crash landed on Earth is a bit too much to ask of the audience in my estimation. I also don’t see how much laughter can be rung from his being nearly perfect and Cryer’s Alan being self-conscious and jealous of him. Honestly the show made a huge mistake by not replacing Sheen with John Stamos…in his two minute scene he had more charisma and charm than Kutcher showed in the entire episode.
Final Verdict: The ratings for this season’s premiere episode were strong but I am curious to see if it was just a case of collective curiosity and if viewers are going to be as disappointed with the cast change as I am and whether that will lead them to begin to tune out. I give the Sheen-less version of TWO AND A HALF MEN a C-.