S9E10: The ninth season of Two and a Half Men has been marked by some supremely low episodes. So, much like last week's The War Agains Conjunctivitis, the latest Men feels like a treat in its innocuousness. Its alternating stories float easily from beginning to end, without earning much laughter or inspiring much offense. "Palmdale, Ech!" is a forgettable episode--but considering the quality for which Two and a Half Men's ninth season is becoming memorable, this might be a good thing.
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!
1. "That settles it, I'm going to heat up some milk."
Walden misses his girlfriend, who is overseas in London for an ever-lengthening period of time. In the interim period, he is forced to spend time with Jake and his friend Eldridge, who are hardly fitting intellectual company for the ingenious Walden. Meanwhile, Alan is taking his relationship to the next level by agreeing to meet his girlfriend's mother (Georgia Engel). Despite her sweet exterior, Mrs. Mackelroy is a compulsively critical woman who imparts her wrath unto her own daughter. Alan can relate.
2. "If he thinks he got laid, what difference does it make?"
While Alan deals with a malicious widow and her angst-ridden daughter, Walden spends his time wallowing in the company of Jake and Eldridge. In order to distract himself, he chats with the boys about their high school experiences and engages in a round of video games. As a fan of Ashton Kutcher's pre-Men work, I find that scenes—and episodes—like this one are a waste of his talent. Kutcher doesn't get the opportunity to be funny here. Instead, he's just given filler dialogue between stupid remarks tossed out by Jake and Eldridge. A nameless extra with a few throwaway lines could serve this scene just as well as Ashton does.
3. "What do you get if you already have big junk?"
Ashton plays straight-man throughout the episode, growing more and more impatient with the idiots Jake and Eldridge. The stupidity begins when the duo introduce a couple of harebrained ideas for apps in hopes of becoming "consultants" for Walden's company. Of course, none of Jake's or Elridge's ideas are any good. Ashton doesn't lose it quite yet, but he is visibly disturbed by the boys' ignorance. A bump in the points for this sign of life in Ashton, who has up to this point appeared to be half asleep.
4. "Two-mom dinner? No! God, no!"
Alan has the bright idea of introducing Lyndsey's mother to his own, believing the two will hit it off nicely due to their similar ages, Surprisingly, both to the audience and to his own mother (who is against the idea at first), he is right. Evelyn and Mrs. Mackelroy become fast friends. However, Lyndsey is not pleased with the influence Evelyn has on her mom. Quickly, the sweet Mrs. Mackelroy descends into desires for nights of passion (and a lower-back tattoo). After their children depart from dinner and call it a night, the mothers hit the town together on the prowl. And, as we're meant to believe, Alan's and Lyndsey's mothers actually sleep together. It's a peculiar turn of events, and kind of an offensive one if you consider the inherent homophobia in automatically assigning a same-sex encounter the connotation of a wild night of debauchery. But by this point in a Men episode, it's unlikely a viewer really has enough energy to be adamantly offended by anything.
5. "If only there was an app that could capture the spoken word."
Ashton shows life in his last two scenes with Jake and Eldridge. He agrees to drive them to a big party, but becomes infuriated when he realizes they wrote down the wrong address, and have no idea where they're going. A screaming Ashton is the best kind of Ashton. That '70s Show's Kelso was golden for his penchant for anxiety and outbursts. Ashton is funniest in film when exacerbated. So it's curious why Walden Schmidt is usually stuck with being subdued and lazy. But Ashton's final scenes on this week's episode work best, because he is so fed up with Jake's stupidity, that it actually begins to grate on his own psyche. He loses it (not completely, but a little), giving the viewer some good old fashioned Ashton Kutcher agitation.
Total Points: 18 - Two Charlie Sheen Heads!
For the second episode in a row, we get a relatively innocuous Two and a Half Men. Yes, you could take issue with the conclusion of the Alan/Lyndsey/mothers story. To be honest, the biggest offense there is simply lazy writing. As far as Ashton Kutcher goes, there is really no use for him as long as he is just being treated as a purveyor for the actions of the idiots around him. But he is apparently here to stay, so let's hope he starts screaming again soon.