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 seventh season the show continues to be cutting-edge and funny. Charlie decides to do a little growing up and finally commit to one woman. The relationship and its growth take up a lot of the season’s episodes. This relationship has its fallout: waking up in bed with a stranger as he and Alan party to celebrate the pending wedding. Pre-nup controversy, Chelsea’s hot roommate, and undergoing an embarrassing medical procedure just to avoid meeting her parents are all consequences of the story arc. By the end of the season the relationship’s consequences will mean a downward spiral for Charlie.
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.
Charlie Harper’s Ex Reunion: (9:16) Some of the girls from Charlie’s life talk about the character.
Gag Reel: (7:34)
The most obvious changes in the 7th season have to do with Angus T. Jones as Jake. This guy really isn’t much of a kid any more, and you have to wonder just how long the titular concept can be played out. The show also reaches for a much longer story arc than it has in past seasons. It really feels like everyone is reaching by this point. With all of that and Charlie Sheen’s off-camera troubles and growing disinterest in the show, I suspect the 8th season will likely be the last for the series. You’ll start to see the writing on the wall quite plainly with this release. There’s just no place else for the show to go, unless we consider: “Colombian drug lords and space aliens—oh, and Kung Fu.”