When Charlie Sheen got fired and written out after season eight as an “exploded bag of meat” under a Metro train somewhere in Paris, I thought Two and a Half Men had surely jumped the shark and lost its magic forever (had the Sheen/CBS love affair continued to the end, Charlie would surely have died under a pile of gorgeous women and feeling no pain). But then for season nine, the very funny and talented Ashton Kutcher was brilliantly cast as Walden Schmidt, the suicidal billionaire replacement, and I really thought the show had been snatched from the scrap heap. The first post-Charlie episodes were very funny and I thought we would have many more years of laughs to enjoy with an even-more-dislikeable-yet-likeable Alan Harper (played by Jon Cryer) and an even more lady-killing-anti-hero-playboy than Charlie Harper in Walden.
I won’t talk about Angus T. Jones (Jake) who apparently found God, quit the show after season 10 and called it “filth”. He even called himself a “hypocrite” for continuing to take the money (around US$350,000 per episode) even after he grew up and realized the show’s subject matter sometimes conflicted with his personal morals. I wonder if he’ll stop being a hypocrite now and give the US$15 million he made from it to charity. It’s easy to have a conscience about these things when you’re a multi-millionaire – let’s see if he accepts a return appearance in the final episode for a hundred thousand bucks when he’s broke.
CBS has announced that the 12th season will be the last and I can see why. It all went a bit wobbly for me when the story line had Alan go completely bonkers in season nine, episode eight and start believing he was Charlie. Then loveable idiot Jake disappeared “to Japan for a year” at the end of season 10 (although it had to become Two Men and Another Man at some point anyway, whether Angus quit or not) and the jokes started to centre around people smoking illegal substances and talking about funny or strange things Charlie used to do even though we never saw him do them (as if we didn’t see him do enough). Apparently it took two people to replace Jake; Jenny, Charlie’s illegitimate heavy-drinking lesbian daughter (played by Amber Tamblyn) who we never knew about, and Barry (Clark Duke), a chronic masturbator who appeared by virtue of a tenuous link with one of Walden’s ex-girlfriends. All starting to reach a bit, in my opinion.
Luckily for me I was on an SQ flight a couple of days ago and I got to see the two latest episodes ahead of general release in this part of the world. It was the final nail in the coffin for me and saved me a lot of wasted time watching the previous episodes I had yet to catch up on and the future episodes yet to be made. I won’t tell you what happens, but it’s painfully clear that Chuck Lorre was the brains behind the storylines — his disappearance from the writing team coincides with a major nose-dive in quality, which happened just after the start of season 11. All I will say is that when writers resort to having characters go mad or get drunk or fall face-first into a cake to get laughs, you know they are writing on the wall. When they have them do all three simultaneously, it’s just sad.
It’s an ignominious end for me to CBS’ longest running and most successful comedy show because I won’t be watching season 12 or the season 11 episodes I missed. It’s over as of now because I want to remember it as it was. I know you think I will be tempted to watch anyway, but I won’t because I know that in the finale at the end of season 12, the writers plan to have Walden and Alan perform same sex marriage so they can adopt a baby. I can’t watch that. Too obviously and deliberately controversial, and they’ll probably be stoned, drunk and temporarily insane as they fall hand-in-hand into a giant wedding cake. Ha ha ha….