S9E10: Last week's episode, "Frodo's Headshots," concluded a two-episode arc that took the Ashton Kutcher-led Two and a Half Men TAAHM to new heights. The show didn't have to be a smatter of offensive one-liners and half-baked sitcom scenarios. Instead, thanks to the potential of its characters, the two episodes proved Two and a Half Men could be something more. Namely, being funny.
But the conclusion of that episode also was clear: we're going back to square one. And that's the case—you won't find any mention of Alan's mental breakdown or crazy episode-long dream in tonight's show. What will you find? A slightly above-average 22-minutes.
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!
"A Fishbowl Full Of Glass Eyes"
1. "YOU WANT TO GO ON A DATE WITH ME?"
After waiting patiently on the sidelines while Alan went insane, Ashton's Walden finally gets an episode for himself. The cold open puts it all out there: Walden's going to go out a date—and he's anything but equipped to do so. Prompted by Jake after meeting a beautiful British woman at the supermarket, Walden makes an aggressive move. From the other side of the store, he courts the lady. Because it's Walden, the putz move works.
While Walden's manchild behavior is normally a turn off, we've gone long enough without seeing him act like a doofus that here, it's chuckle-worthy. I have a feeling everyone who agreed with me on the quality of the past two episodes will once again be hating on Mr. Kutcher, but let's be nice: he's a charming comedian when acting like a ten-year-old and it's nice to see this side of Walden again. If they were ever to remake Ton Hanks' Big (note to Hollywood: please do not remake Tom Hanks' Big), Ashton might be the man for the job.
2. "...I should have made it out of poop and tears."
Ready for the date, Alan—the man no person should ever take romantic advice fun—dishes a few wise words of romantic advice to Walden: take off the wedding ring. I appreciate this episode's restraint—unlike the lowest of low Two and a Half Men, Alan and Walden's banter isn't devolving into idiotic joke telling. They're having a "real" conversation here, one that dishes out a few fun, telling facts about Walden and Bridget (he bought them wedding rings after he made his first million) while peppering the back and forth with ridiculousness ("Is this about condoms? Because Jake already gave me his lucky one."). Harmless.
3. "Are we going to fall in love and stuff? That would really teach Bridget a lesson."
Unlike his redemption date with Bridget in "Big Girls Don't Throw Food," Walden's first real date with another woman is destructive for reasons other than food fights. But even with this stunning brunette by his side, Walden can't shut up about his "soul mate."
Obivously Walden wants to move on from his ex-wife, but I imagine like most men recovering from divorce, the symbolic weight of a wedding ring doesn't simply dissipate. Even his date notices the pale imprint of the ring on his finger (although his constant babbling over Bridget is a clear indication he's messed in the head). Needless to say, the date doesn't go well, and while it doesn't garner too many laughs in the process, or cover new territory, it's a simple, fun scene that acts as a stage for some fine work from Ashton.
4. "I was right the first time, I don't need this anymore!"
Throughout the episode, Alan tries to swallow his pride and sell Walden's discarded, rodium-infused wedding ring to the pawn shop for $100,000. But when it comes down to it, he falters. Standing on the beach with Walden—in a mellow scene with a volume level quite unheard of for Two and a Half Men—Alan hands back the precious metal to his millionaire friend, who proceeds to cast it away into the ocean. The writers of the show seems to have realized what works best when Walden and Alan share screentime: Ashton's the straight man and Jon Cryer's the spastic best friend. But that's the key, they're friends, and it keeps either from being terribly outlandish.
5. "Oh, you used the frequent flyer miles, where are you?"
The episode concludes with Walden phoning Jake, a call back to an earlier joke in the episode. Walden previously gave Jake 250,000 frequent flyer miles. Now, Jake's in the middle of France. Except he's a nincompoop, so he's not really sure where he is. Points for Ashton for making a classic "What have I done?" face to wrap up a fluffy, fun episode. Hopefully this goes somewhere!
Total Points: 33 - Four Charlie Sheen Heads!
Tonight's episode was the equivalent of a breath of fresh mountain air. For the moment you're taking it in, it's all well and good. Seconds later, you forget it happened. This isn't a bad thing for Two and a Half Men—in fact, I prefer this over the trainwrecks of earlier in the season. If Ashton can keep anchoring the cast, Two and a Half Men will continue to be worth checking out.