Matt Hoyle/CBS/Warner Bros.
Two And A Half Men.
Angus T. Jones, Ashton Kutcher, and Jon Cryer are the new cast of
Angus T. Jones, Ashton Kutcher, and Jon Cryer are the new cast of Two And A Half Men. Matt Hoyle/CBS/Warner Bros.
Last night, Ashton Kutcher debuted on Two And A Half Men as the replacement for Charlie Sheen. As you may have heard, Sheen was let go this spring after running into a few highly public difficulties of the sometimes criminal, sometimes legal, sometimes domestic, and sometimes flat-out unsettling variety.
It's been known for some time that the show intended to kill off Sheen's character, Charlie Harper. What wasn't known until last night was how much unrestrained glee it would take in dispatching Charlie. ...Charlie Harper, that is.
The show opened at Charlie's funeral, where former girlfriends lamented that he gave them STDs, a drug connection announced that Charlie owed him money, and even Charlie's own mother seemed most interested in getting her commission for selling his house. The show did allow Alan (Jon Cryer) a few moments with Charlie's urn to express some genuine affection for him, but that was about it — for real. Other than that, it was so long, farewell, get gone.
Two And A Half Men.
Jon Cryer and Ashton Kutcher on the season premiere of
Jon Cryer and Ashton Kutcher on the season premiere of Two And A Half Men. Adam Rose/CBS
And the first sight of Kutcher was calculated to be as emphatic an "in with the new, out with the old" gesture as one could make. It was a foregone conclusion that something awful was going to happen with Charlie's ashes from the moment Alan started carrying them around, but as it turned out, he looked up, saw Kutcher's character standing by the window, and was so surprised that — yes — he flung the ashes into the air, such that Ashton Kutcher came onto the show in a flurry of Charlie Harper's literal human remains.
Ultimately, Charlie Harper was not scattered on the beach or returned to the earth. He was consigned to the Dustbuster of history.
Whether this is a massive miscalculation or not remains (ha ha) to be seen. Fans of Sheen who were willing not to hold his departure against the show may find it an unnecessary poke in the eye. But people who tuned in out of curiosity who don't like Sheen may find it witty and badly needed, particularly during the current Sheen Non-Apology Tour, where he came to the Emmys to, it seems, reassure the show that he did not have any hard feelings.
Many things can be said about the way CBS, Warner Brothers Television and producer Chuck Lorre handled Sheen. But they were not timid about handling his departure. And given reports that the episode received record ratings — twice the number of people in key, advertiser-friendly demographics who watched last season's opener — it's not hurting them yet.