Two And A Half Men reached their 100th episode in the 5th year. That’s the milestone when a series becomes viable in syndication to local market stations. That’s the kind of show you see once, twice, a hundred times a day on those local stations either just before primetime or late at night. This is also the year that the writers of CSI and Two And A Half Men switched shows for an episode. It’s one of those cross-over ideas that I don’t think had been done before. I’d love to see the South Park and Family Guy staffs do something like this. That would be pay per view worthy. So, here on 3 discs is that milestone season for you to enjoy at home.
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’s 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, Alan’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 Alan. 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 1.78:1 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 2.0 track is serviceable for the kind of a show this is. You’re in it for the dialog, and it comes through just fine.
The extras are on all three discs.
Two And A Half Men At 100: (5:20) Join the 100th episode party with the cast and crew.
The Lore Of Chuck Lorre: (4:56) Chuck Lorre is one of the creative talents behind the show, but this is a very lame, stupid feature. He rambles about, what, I don’t know. The intro advises you to keep your remote handy. When you see the pause symbol you should pause the screen. Why? So you can read stupid text.
Dying Is Easy, Comedy Is Hard: (10:24) Here we learn how the writer switch with CSI came about.
CSI Episode: Two And A Half Deaths: (42:32) This is the CSI episode written by Lorre and the gang.
The show had a great year in number 5. There was a bit more risk taking, and the characters were evolving. Of course, the kid is growing up, and so the humor he takes part in is getting a bit more risqué. It was a year of gimmicks. Some worked. Some did not, but “you don’t have to look very hard for a motive”.