S9E18: In the wake of what may have been the worst episode of Two and a Half Men's ninth season (and I've been riding the Ashton Kutcher roller coaster since the beginning), tonight's so-so entry is kind of gift. A few chuckles, some lowbrow throwaways and a whiff of character development—the definition of middle road. That's saying something, as the opposed was mainly about peeing (in contrast to last week's "Not in My Mouth," which was all vomiting).:
Stand-up comedian, writer and actor Patton Oswalt made an appearance tonight, forcing the comedy-inclined Mr. Kutcher to step up his game. Here's the scorecard 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!
"The War Against Gingivitis"
1. "If my eye is twitching, it's only because I have conjunctivitis."
After a string of dating-themed Men episodes, "War on Gingivitis" takes a much-needed break to give us a slice of Walden's occupational history. You see, back when Walden was building computer systems in his ex-wife Bridget's garage, he had a partner in crime: Billy Stanhope (Patton Oswalt). They invented brilliant web programs only to buttheads over selling out and making billions. That's when Billy went crazy, recording YouTube videos of himself ripping up photos of Walden, eating them and pooping them out—all on camera, of course.
Walden's disastrous friendship comes back to haunt him when, one day, Bridget Skype calls to to alert him that Billy has a new proposition. This makes Walden very, very, very angry. The back-and-forth between Ashton and the always-lovely Judy Greer is simple and silly, a fine excuse to rile the blank Walden into a frenzy. Extra point for the Ashton's eye twitch (which stands out as something unexpected in this pedestrian scene).
2. "You look good without the crack pipe."
Much to Walden's chagrin, Alan lets Billy into the mansion without hesitation—obviously smelling the opportunity to jump on board whatever money-making scheme the two could potentially cook up. Billy and Walden are like two punk middle schoolers who drive each other to their last nerves all while being best friends. It's a fun dynamic, and most of the episode is spent watching the two spitfire insults to and fro. Brushed over is the fact that Billy was once a serious crack abuser, a character trait that would shock any normal, multi-faceted human being but is another walk in the park for Alan and Walden. Instead, life's bigger problems are swept under the rug. They're just not as funny as moments spent calling each other "rectal cancer" or engaging in headlock rough housing, which is how the first reunion quickly devolves. Ashton's own buffoonery is amplified by the Comedy Jesus that is Patton Oswalt. The comeidan turns tasteless non-jokes into delicious, alcoholic stupidity, performing his miracle on the cast and making the whole she-bang a lot more fun to watch than usual. Serious regular, please?
3. "We'll see who's got the girlie bladder!"
Again, more scenes where Ashton and Patton sit around cracking jokes. Not a bad thing...not an exciting thing.Eventually, after a humiliating apology caught on iPhone video, Billy and Walden reteam on the mysterious "electric briefcase" project. The programming Mt. Everest keeps the two locked to their seats for hours, chugging Red Bull and embarking on a game of bathroom chicken. Who will pee first? That's tonight's compelling character struggle. You've never heard the keyboard shortcut command utilized in such a nefarious fashion (for reference purposes, it's Ctrl+P).
4. "Sometimes peeing is better than sex."
When the duo finally releases their liquid waste, Billy has a startling confession that finally draws a little genuine (and funny) reaction out of Walden. Turns out, Bridget called Walden to set up their meeting because Billy's sleeping with his business associate's ex-wife. Rut roh.
Much like Billy's bizarre addiction problems, this interesting twist is quickly thrown away. Why can't Two and a Half Men tackle an honest-to-goodness issue while also making pee pee jokes. It's possible. I think? I'm knocking either Ashton or Oswalt in this instance, but with hints of a funnier scenario, the "what if?" possibilities overshadow the decent comedy on display. And you know how hard it is to ignore Ashton.
5. "Yeah, all the while wondering if she's missing the damn python."
By the episode cap, all appears to be forgiven. Walden and Billy are back to work, Alan returns home having survived a run in with some drug dealing friends of Berta and the electric briefcase is finally ready for testing. Turns out, the boys have invented a program that sucks the light out of...places. The house? No problem. The state of Florida. Bye, bye, lights. Canada? Poof—blackout. And that's that. Again, there's nothing wrong the barrage of silly one-liners, it's just not provoking in anyway, even like last week's torturous barf episode. Depends if it's better to have your mind blown by something foul or to ho hum your way through a half hour sitcom. I may prefer the former.
Total Points: 24 - Three Charlie Sheen Heads!
Tonight's Two and a Half Men was neither a hit nor a miss for Mr. Kutcher. If anything, it's nice to see him paired up with a guest star that makes it look so easy. Whatever it is that allows Patton Oswalt to walk into a room and make magic out of goofy dialogue, I hope Ashton and Co. are able to syphon. Or, at least, I hope they convinced him to return for more episodes.
Do you think this is the last we'll see of Billy Stanhope? Do you want him to return?