It looks the same. The jokes are the same. Everyone's horny, so that's the same. But Two and a Half Men feels a bit different.
Maybe it's because the strong family connections are gone, despite the addition of Jenny, played by Amber Tamblyn. Jenny, of course, is the previously unknown daughter of the supposedly deceased Charlie Harper, who was played by Charlie Sheen before he exited the show in his "tiger blood" phase.
Two and a Half Men -- which is in its 11th season, airing Thursdays on CBS and CTV -- initially was centred upon Charlie, his brother Alan (Jon Cryer) and Alan's son Jake (Angus T. Jones). Charlie is gone and Jake has been reduced to "recurring" status after Jones went all culty-religious and admonished people for watching the show that made him rich.
So presently at the root of the series we have Alan, his niece Jenny and billionaire Walden Schmidt (Ashton Kutcher). The reasons that the three of them are living together are flimsy at best. Not that such details matter much on a show such as Two and a Half Men. It's all about snappy lines and sexual innuendo, delivered in a way that slips past the censors but has audience members nudging and winking. And this show always has been sharply written, even if the humour is not to your personal taste.
Example from a recent episode: After a night of partying, Walden and Jenny wake up naked in bed together, which clearly would be disturbing to Alan if he found out. But did Walden and Jenny really have sex?
Walden momentarily is relieved when Jenny reminds him that she's gay. But then a still-worried Walden asks Jenny, "How gay? Like, one being, 'Yay, it's college,' or 10 being, 'I'm going Subaru shopping with Ellen and Rosie.' "
It was a good line, in part because the Walden character seemed momentarily engaged when he delivered it, rather than bored. I've written before about an observation a colleague made, that the thing that's odd about Walden is real-life self-made billionaires aren't passive. They may be weird, but they're never passive.
Analyzing the trio that currently constitutes Two and a Half Men, Cryer still seems into it, even after all these years, and Tamblyn has some spunk. It's actually Kutcher who is the weak link, and keep in mind, I like him generally. I just don't know if he's blase about this role, or simply that the role is written that way.
Maybe it's a combination of both.
I actually could see Two and a Half Men continuing at some point without Kutcher. Why not? Let's see, Walden goes off to South America to save the rain forest or something, and leaves the house to Alan. Hmmm, now all we need is a new cast member. With all these movie people moving to TV, what's Tom Cruise doing these days? The 5-foot-7-at-most Cruise could be the "half man," zing.