S9E15: I have to commend this week’s Two and a Half Men. In an episode with a plot line devoted entirely to sex and marijuana, there manages to actually be a good deal of genuine, sweet-natured interaction between Walden Schmidt and his girlfriend Zooey. Of course, interspersed are plenty of jokes about genitalia, freaking out on pot brownies, and Alan’s pathetic romantic life, but that is to be expected.
What really makes the episode stand out as uniquely well-meaning is how invested Walden is in his girlfriend’s enjoyment of their shared sex life; additionally, he is just as invested in the idea of getting to know Zooey’s daughter, with whom she shares a sweet scene at the end of the episode. For a show known for its bawdy humor, it manages to work in some nice moments this week.
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 Duchess of Dull-in-sack”
1. “I could totally be Spider-Man.”
The episode introduces two problems in the relationship between Walden and Zooey. One: Walden comes to understand that Zooey is a bit sexually repressed (stemming from trust issues, as she reveals while intoxicated later in the episode) and as a result is not enjoying their sex life. Two: Zooey is against the idea of Walden meeting her daughter. Although the first scene displays your regular goofy Walden shtick, it leads into a more sincere approach toward getting closer to his girlfriend, and making her happier.
2. “You know what she said to me last night after we had sex? ‘That was nice. Now let’s do something fun.'”
Walden laments his situation to Alan, who one-ups every scenario batted at him with a more depressing example of romantic failure from his own life. Jon Cryer commands the scene; even though he has nothing going on in this episode, he seems to reign supreme as the joke champion, citing various personal instances of romantic exploits gone awry. Ashton is more or less forgettable in this scene, acting more as a sounding board for Cryer’s one-liners.
3. “That Hugh Grant is really something.”
Walden brings his concerns to his girlfriend, front and center, trying to coax her with the ideas of role-playing. This is where the sincerity starts to kick in, albeit slowly. Ashton’s delivery at first seems a little too subdued. Maybe even a little creepy. But when it starts to hit that Walden is genuinely concerned about his girlfriend’s happiness, it pays off–as does the actor’s playing down of the scenes; a more “lively” delivery might have come across wacky or desperate. The initial sequence might be a bit weak, but we’ll see it strengthen throughout the episode.
4. “I’d better go check on her. But first: ice cream.”
Playing the stereotypical stoned character, spouting Shaggy-isms and eating way too much, doesn’t serve comedy well in my opinion. It’s too easy a mine. The writers hope that people will laugh at the simple idea that these characters are doing drugs. Walden suggests pot brownies to relax Zooey enough for a soothing night together. Instead, she goes nuts and runs away (appearing in the kitchen not long after), and he wanders lifelessly, searching for his girlfriend, with no memory of where he has already checked.
5. “I live to do the Queen’s bidding.”
Ashton accompanies a sobering Zooey back to her apartment. There, they find Zooey’s ex-husband, who alerts her that he cannot take their daughter for the weekend, breaking his promise to take her to the zoo. Not wanting the already disappointed young girl to watch her parents fight, Walden escorts her into the living room, where he entertains her with some goofy physical comedy and some very sweet playing along with her imaginary status as Queen.
Total Points: 31 – Four Charlie Sheen Heads!
It’s impressive that a show that dedicates so much of its life force to dirty jokes and pushing the envelope can prove that sex and sexuality can come from very sweet, sentimental and wholesome places. Ashton pulls this off in the end through the storyline between Walden and Zooey; it’s a bit unexpected for Two and a Half Men, and maybe a little disarming. But I believe it works.