S9E3: Last week’s Two and a Half Men, “Big Girls Don’t Throw Food,” was a bit of a fumble. Thus far, Ashton Kutcher’s been doing a solid to above average job of turning the show into his own, departing from Sheen’s style while finding a groove that is quintessential Men. But episode three didn’t work—Walden’s writing was shotgunned and ambiguous, the character doing whatever the scenes required.
Was this week different? For that, we go to the scorecard. 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 fourth round of the Ashton Kutcher Two and a Half Men scorecard!
“Nine Magic Fingers”
1. “Why are you wearing masks?” – Walden
“I’m at a charity event…for people without faces…” – Bridget
Walden Schmidt’s continuous dilemma is his inability to get over his soon-to-be ex-wife, Bridget. Naturally, Ashton would then play his character sad. But it seems as if he is having trouble differentiating from playing sad and not ‘playing’ at all. Ashton Kutcher delivers his lines flatly and without much enthusiasm. Just because Walden Schmidt is depressed and languid, it doesn’t mean his performance needs to be lazy.
2. “Sometimes I lay down. Sometimes I curl up in a ball.” – Walden
One thing to Ashton’s credit: he’s managing pathetic reasonably well. It seems that Walden Schmidt has had almost no interaction with human beings. Whether this is a conscious choice or not by the creators and Ashton is ambiguous, but it makes it more believable that a handsome multi-billionaire would have trouble finding love.
3. “You need to get out there and find Ms. Right. And you need to do it immediately.” – Alan
“Now? But I was gunna curl up in a ball.” – Ashton
It’s hard to tell what the creators really want to do with Ashton and this character. Is he supposed to be parallel Alan’s relationship with Charlie? Is the new relationship supposed to be a role-reversal, with Alan being the on-the-ball alpha male to Walden’s whiny, morose loser? It seems, mostly, that neither the show nor Ashton has figured out just what Walden is, and what purpose he’ll serve. It’s early yet in the season, so this is forgivable. But hopefully they’ll figure it out soon.
4. “Alan called and told me you were doing something stupid. I just met her.” – Bridget
Ashton faces a showdown between his ex-wife (Judy Greer) and new girlfriend (Jenny McCarthy; the woman who tried to con Charlie into a marriage previously). This sort of face-off could warrant something emotionally explosive from Ashton’s extremely fragile character, but instead we get a predictable lewd joke and some more flat delivery. Get this man a coffee!
5. “Let this be a warning to you, Alan. There are women out there who will just be nice to you to get to your money.” – Walden
“Thanks, but that’s not very high on my list of priorities.” – Alan
And the tag that proves that, in the end, this show is not about love between a man and a woman, but the bond between two men (the other “half man” is featured strangely infrequently in this and recent episodes). As Ashton mumbles through a profession of his appreciation of Cryer’s character, we take little of it as genuine, as the performance seems like the actor is half asleep. There was always something heated and alive on both ends of the Cryer-Sheen dynamic. And although Cryer is still as animated as ever, Ashton Kutcher doesn’t really seem all too excited to be there at all.
Total Points: 14 – TWO Charlie Sheen Heads!
Ashton Kutcher is not a man without acting talent. In fact, he is known for playing lively, animated, and slightly kooky characters in film and television. This begs a lot of curiosity, as he is bringing none of this enthusiasm to Walden Schmidt. Perhaps he just hasn’t figured the character out yet. Perhaps he’s nervous in filling Charlie Sheen’s shoes. Whatever it is, let’s hope he rectifies it quickly.