S9E12: Tonight’s episode of Two and a Half Men takes a stab at comparing Walden Schmidt’s family life and upbringing to that of the much less fortunate Alan Harper. Walden’s mother (Mimi Rogers) comes to visit for the holidays, which puts him in terrific spirits. Anyone familiar with the show knows that Alan has a much less favorable relationship with his mother. Luckily, she stays out of his way this season, and Alan is left to celebrate Christmas with the Schmidts.
This is Alan’s first Christmas without Charlie, which is a pretty macabre bummer. But the cheerful Walden learns that he himself is not exactly an only child: his primatologist mother raised him alongside a baby gorilla for the first four years of their lives, treating the two as if they were brothers. Walden has always remembered the gorilla, but has allowed himself to believe that he was just an imaginary friend (does this remind anyone else of the beginning of Rain Man?). Once Walden realizes that he was raised alongside the gorilla, Magilla, and that his “brother” was sent to the jungle at age four, he begins to realize that that fear of being sent away to Africa has haunted him subconsciously for his entire life.
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!
“One False Move, Zimbabwe!”
1. “Yes, I’m seeing someone…No, you can’t meet her…Becauseit’s too soon…I don’t know what it means, it’s just what she keeps telling me.”
Admittedly, I’m not a regular watcher of Two and a Half Men like the regular reviewer, Matt Patches. That being said, I am not sure what to make of the relationship between Walden and his girlfriend. The duo don’t seem to click whatsoever. Their scene makes me unsure as to whether or not the girl is at all interested in Walden in any genuine way. Her excitement to see him later on makes me second guess this theory; perhaps it is just a lack of on screen chemistry. Either way, if this relationship is what we’re supposed to believe has gotten him over his love for his ex-wife Bridget (the original driving force for the character), then I think the two should really amp up the romantic aura.
2. “Check it out. I got my own ocean. Well, it’s not completelymine. I have to share the other side with Japan.?”
The most positive scene in the episode takes place between Walden’s two conflicts: his girlfriend’s uneasiness to meet his mother, and his own discovery of his abandoned gorilla brother. When Walden’s mother first comes to visit, he seems giddy and eager to please and impress her. This seems like a good root for Walden’s issues with Bridget, and other women: his constant drive for his mother’s approval. Now, they didn’t directly explore this route (although the whole anxiety over being shipped off to Africa can definitely be considered relevant), but at the very least, Walden’s relationship with his mother is at least a more charming place for his childlike behavior.
3. “Hold on a second. I was raised with a gorilla?”
And back down again. Once Walden finds out that he was raised alongside a gorilla, he becomes corrosive and unpleasant. Obviously, the writers were going for angry. But the character’s delivery of this demeanor doesn’t really work…he’s just sort of grating, and seems like a jackass, as opposed to a wounded, reasonably upset man-child.
4. “It’s a succinct summation of my seminal years spent with a simian sibling.”
Playing drunk is something you’re either great at or terrible at: Ashton is in the latter category. When he bursts in on his girlfriend Zooey’s Christmas dinner with her parents, he belligerently tells the tale of his abandoned gorilla brother. The scene is saved thanks to the wonderful comic timing of the actors who play Zooey’s parents (Jim Piddock and Jane Carr). The duo remains perfectly charming and bubbly throughout the entire scene, even when Walden throws a fit and climbs onto their roof.
The ending is poorly executed, but I have to offer credit for at least trying something fun. In an act of rage, Walden climbs onto the roof and does a whole King Kong parody, waving his arms angrily at a nearly helicopter (much to Alan’s chagrin). However, Alan channels his own grief about losing his brother, and manages to convinces Walden to forgive his mother, Walden climbs down.
Total Points: 23 – Three Charlie Sheen Heads!
The episode is not without its strengths. Most of them, however, have to do not with Ashton or any of the regular cast, but with the guest players, most notably Piddock and Carr (who really do make me laugh out loud a couple of times in this episode). There are some moments that are a bit sweet, then quickly turn to humor. This would be fine, but the humor is rarely a big payoff. Still, Walden got a happy ending, which is what I want out of a Christmas episode.