Charlie Sheen is an unlikely actor to star in a television sit-com. Even after watching the show, I’m not sure how anyone came up with the idea in the first place. He has little to no comedic timing and he’s about as funny as a funeral. The thing that works here, however, is that he really doesn’t need to be all that funny to make this show work. Sheen pretty much deadpans his entire performance, which generously enough works rather well teamed with the more manic comedy of Jon Cryer. Throw into the mix a rather extraordinary young child actor in Angus T. Jones, and suddenly a show that looks terrible on paper turns out to be pretty dang funny. We’re not talking Fred Sanford funny, but I caught myself laughing far more often than I expected to. I had only caught the show before in bits and pieces and was never all that fond of what I saw. Watching these DVD episodes from the third season shed some new light on the show for me.
Charlie Harper (Sheen) is your typical womanizing bachelor. He got plenty of coin because he writes those annoying jingles you hear on commercials. He also happens to go through plenty of women. He’s got a swank place on the beach, and life is pretty much one big party until his brother Alan (Cryer) shows up on his doorstep along with his son Jake (Jones). In typical Felix Unger/Oscar Madison style, Allan’s been kicked out by his wife of 12 years and needs a place to stay for “just a little while”. Of course, Alan’s lifestyle is drastically different from Charlie’s. He’s got the responsibility of raising his son, and he’s rather obsessive compulsive. As I’ve already mentioned, there is no escaping the obvious Odd Couple revival at work here, down to the slob vs. the neat freak mentalities. Here we add the presence of an impressionable child. Most of the best laughs come when Charlie is trying to educate young Jake to his own philosophies of life. Naturally Alan considers him a bad influence, but then again he is a guest in Charlie’s house. Helping to spread the humor out a bit, we get some great supporting work by Holland Taylor who plays the boys’ smothering mother. Every good sit-com needs the nosy or pesky next door neighbor, and Melanie Lynskey fits the bill as the rapid staler, Rose. Some ethnic humor is provided by bossy housekeeper Berta, played by sit-com veteran Conchata Ferrell. New to the cast in season three is April Bowlby as the brainless Kandi dating Allan. As a particular treat, we get a visit from Charlie’s real life padre; Martin Sheen is an extremely off the wall character, the guys’s… what else… dad. If all of this sounds a bit complicated, it really isn’t. My best advice is not to ask too many questions and enjoy the ride.
Each episode of Two And A Half Men is presented in a surprising 1.85:1 aspect ratio. This is an above and beyond transfer for a television sit-com. Colors are bright and consistent. Black levels are above average and compression artifacts are minimal. This is way more than you’re going to want here.
The Dolby Digital 2.1 track is serviceable for the kind of a show this is. You’re in it for the dialog, and it comes through just fine.
Just a rather lengthy Gag Reel.
While there’s not really anything new in the premise, the show is good for more than its share of laughs. Shows like The Odd Couple and My Two Dads have each mined different aspects of this territory. Still, the show stakes its own claim and is worth a look if you need some good chuckles. For your own protection watch in moderation: “Do not exceed one every six hours… yeah right”.