S9E13: What better way to kick off 2012 then with a fresh episode of Two and a Half Men? Based on Men producer Chuck Lorre's most recent —but hey, everyone deserves to start fresh. New year, blank scorecard. Did tonight's new episode send things off in the right direction? Here's the breakdown:
One Charlie Sheen Head (1 - 10 Points): Ashton, you were in this episode.
Two Charlie Sheen Heads (11 - 20 Points): Ashton, you landed a few jokes, but we can't stop thinking about good ol' Charlie.
Three Charlie Sheen Heads (21 - 30 Points): Ashton, you earned tonight's laugh track. Solid.
Four Charlie Sheen Heads (31 - 40 Points): Ashton, we're impressed. You've surpassed Sheen-level kookiness.
Five Charlie Sheen Heads (41 - 50 Points): Ashton, you're scaring us with classic levels of comedy. Charlie who?
That's that, now on with the Ashton Kutcher Two and a Half Men scorecard!
"A Lovely Landing Strip"
1. "Well I can't do that Bridget...but apparently Alan can."
With Ashton's Walden in the early stages of a new relationship with British gal Zooey and an escalating battle with his ex-wife Bridget (saving grace, Judy Greer), Men takes kicks off its first 2012 episode with a necessary catch up—meaning less time for actual episode. Thankfully, tonight's opening splices Walden's business-centric feud with Bridget with a typical back-and-forth about Alan's self pleasuring yoga techniques.
Look, I'm all about good gross out humor, but there are ways to weave that comedy into a solid story and there ways to lean on it as a crutch. This episode opens with the latter. I've seen Jon Cryer sell a masturbation joke, but Ashton sitting lifeless behind his glowing computer screen only alienates him. Where's the animated Walden that was lighting up the screen back in 2011?! It feels so long ago...
2. "What do you want from me, I had a million dollars and a constant erection."
Walden's belief that he can hold off Bridget's crazed, vengeful antics comes to an abrupt end early on in tonight's episode. Turns out, Bridget and Walden's mother Robin hold equal shares in the manchild's Silicon Valley empire, Walden Loves Bridget Enterprises (perfect), and they're ready to oust Walden from the president position. Thankfully for the billion dollar dunce, Zooey the Lawyer Girlfriend has an out: a loop hole granting Walden the power to add an additional board member. If he can find someone to manipulate, he can gain an extra vote and keep the company safe.
The scenario makes for an intriguing premise, giving Ashton something physical to invest in (it's hard to care about a rich guy who never works). Unfortunately, it's a tidal wave of talky exposition—legalese by way of sitcom banter. Ashton does a passable job juggling all the plot-driven mumbo jumbo. I just wish it/he was funnier. Also: for a guy who lost his one true love for being overly dependent, Walden sure does rely a lot on Zooey to fix his life problems, no?
3. "Do you got a lot of wind resistance down there?"
There's only one candidate for Walden's puppet role: Alan. To propose the job, Walden picks the inopportune time of Alan shaving his legs in the bathtub. The bumbling housemate happily accepts the $50,000 a year gig. And farts to show his appreciation.
Men deserves credit for doing a solid job balancing the commanding leads of its 9th season. One episode can be the Ashton show—but Jon Cryer steps in to the spotlight for a fair share of stories. The only problem is that Ashton really phones it in when he doesn't have much comedic weight on his shoulders. Walden, you're shaking hands with a naked man you just caught manscaping...react!
4. "I would like to change the name of the company to 'Walden Loves Alan Enterprises'"
After Alan joins the corporate team, Walden takes a step out of the picture. Ashton disappears from the antics, in favor of watching Alan go head to head with Bridget and the seductive Robin. Oddly, it turns out to be a rather uninteresting platform for more sex jokes, Walden sporadically popping up to question Alan's loyalty. But even a bottle of high end scotch, a sparkling new Porsche and a Happy Ending in a public bathroom can't sway Alan from sticking with Walden. He votes in favor of keeping Walden.
Walden trumping his two female adversaries is the highlight of the evening, a smug, savvy Walden emerging from the episode's barrage of mind-numbing potty humor. I like the chemistry between Ashton and Sophie Winkleman's Zooey and, to put it bluntly, the show needs more.
5. "Can I tell people its my house?"
"Why stop now?"
The episode wraps up with a seemingly irrelevant end (even with a "Previously On" montage, they didn't have enough material?), a quickie convo of Alan pitching Walden on an investment opportunity. The "Accu-crack" is two balls and a stick you run down your back. Ashton looks about as interested as I did (note: I was not interested). The real reveal is that, for a job well done, Walden has added Alan to the deed of the house—a revision that, after a brief explanation, proves to do diddly for Alan.
I don't know if it's the work of a below average script, but Ashton exists tonight's episode as he entered: asleep. And Jon Cryer exits into the ocean after lighting his crotch on fire.For those who've been criticizing Ashton Kutcher for daring to take over Charlie Sheen's spot on Two and a Half Men, tonight's episode was tailor-made kindling. Walden was nothing more than a blank stare. But let's be positive, put the negativity aside—what does Ashton/Walden need to do to step it up?
Total Points: 15 - Three Charlie Sheen Heads!
For those who've been criticizing Ashton Kutcher for daring to take over Charlie Sheen's spot on Two and a Half Men, tonight's episode was tailor-made kindling. Walden was nothing more than a blank stare. But let's be positive, put the negativity aside—what does Ashton/Walden need to do to step it up?