There are so many jokes about Ashton Kutcher’s enormous penis in the return episode of Two and a Half Men, that I half expected the title card to become ‘Two and a Half Legs’ - or ‘Three Men’. It’s a sign that the writers of this show haven’t left their own particular brand of vaguely nauseating humour behind in making the transition from Charlie Harper (Charlie Sheen) to Walden Schmidt (Ashton Kutcher).
The fact that those jokes are possibly among the most family friendly of the episode is quite a spectacular achievement, one only bettered by the breathtaking laziness of a mid-episode fart joke involving Angus T. Jones – a moment that is almost his only ‘line’.
Some more (spoiler-y) thoughts on the return of ‘Two and Half Men’ coming up after the jump:
If you divide this episode into two halves, you get two very different shows. The second half involving Ashton Kutcher’s introduction is the same old stud/impotent nerd dynamic the show has been peddling for seven seasons, no funnier or cleverer than before. That show seems to be a fitting replacement for Sheen’s Two and a Half Men. I actually don’t think that half of the episode, which is representative of what the series will be going forward, will affect the show’s ratings and response to any considerable degree.
However, I suspect that there are many 2.5 Men fans that watched the show first and foremost for Charlie Sheen. You may understand that, you may find it completely baffling, but it remains probable. He was the undeniable public face of the show, even if Jon Cryer was its secret weapon.
So how are those fans going to react to the show leaving the Charlie Harper character (and let’s face it, by extension, Sheen) with not a shred of dignity whatsoever? The funeral sequence and the minutes following absolutely eviscerated the character, with a quick fire series of jokes about how only one person at his funeral cared he was dead and everybody else was just saying what venereal disease he gave them. Not content, the show’s writers followed that with Melanie Lynskey’s Rose basically confessing she murdered him for his infidelities by pushing him in front of a train. It was so callous, crass, undignified and unrepentant that I can’t imagine any fan of Charlie Harper even giving the replacement a chance.
As a side note, the two potential buyers for Charlie’s house were both very meta and both very bizarre. I’m still not one hundred per cent sure whether John Stamos was confessing that his character and Charlie raped an unconscious woman or that they had sex with each other. I’m assuming the phrase ‘we continued without her’ means the latter, but should there really be even a tiny grey area there? The Dharma and Greg appearance was initially a little dispiriting, but became much funnier once you remembered how awful that show was and how likely it would be that Dharma and Greg would grow to hate each other.*
(*I see Thomas Gibson has understandably gained absolutely no comic timing during his stint on Criminal Minds.)
Will you like Two and a Half Men in its new guise? The answer, like the show itself, is pretty simple. If you like jokes about Ashton Kutcher's penis, fart jokes, or Jon Cryer, you'll like this.