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.
In the sixth season the show continues to be cutting edge and funny. The big thing that is happening here is that the Jake character is growing up right before our eyes. He was once the cute little kid who played the innocent foil for the other two. Now he often has some of the better storylines. He’s gotten a bit crude and more than a little sarcastic. Stories this season include: Charlie thinks he might have an 8 year old son. Jake has his first beer. Judith is expecting a kid. The season ends with the arrival of the new baby.
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 2.1 track is serviceable for the kind of a show this is. You’re in it for the dialog, and it comes through just fine.
There are 24 episodes on 4 discs. The bonus features are on the 4th disc.
Growing Up Harper: (13:36) Angus T. Jones was 8 years old when the show started. Now he’s a teen, and the audience watched him grow up on the show. This feature looks at both the actor and the character and how they’ve both developed over the last 6 years.
The Women Of Two And A Half Men: (15:46) This feature looks at the show’s ladies. Plenty of cast and crew comments and footage.
Gag Reel: (7:22)
Most shows lose a little steam by their 6th season. The sign of a quality show is when they don’t. The humor is often a little crude for my tastes, but you can’t deny the quality at all. The best thing the series has going for it is the growing up of Jones. It allows the show to move forward so that it is a completely different kind of show today than it was 6 years ago. It’s not the most intelligent humor out there, but it is a lot of fun “for people who can afford to lose a few brain cells”.