Ashton Kutcher on ‘Two and a Half Men’ is no laughing matter for fans
By PAIGE WISER TV Criticfirstname.lastname@example.org May 13, 2011 6:50PM
"Two and a Half Men" is about to get Ashton Kutcher.
Updated: August 20, 2011 12:32AM
Is it possible to replace Charlie Sheen?
We now have Chuck Lorre’s answer: a very loud “Yes.” It was confirmed Friday that Ashton Kutcher will join the cast of “Two and a Half Men.”
“We are so lucky to have someone as talented, joyful and just plain remarkable as Ashton joining our family,” said Lorre, the creator and executive producer of the hit show. “Added to that is the deep sigh of relief knowing that our family stays together. If I was any happier, it’d be illegal.”
But is it possible to successfully replace Charlie Sheen?
That, we won’t know until the fall season.
So far, “Two and a Half Men’s” fans aren’t happy about it. On the show’s Facebook fan page, the comments were overwhelmingly negative.
“I won’t watch,” posted Greg Rask. “Charlie Sheen was the show.”
“It’s like ‘Happy Days’ without Richie Cunningham,” wrote Joe Gaya Banaag. “It won’t work.”
One poster went so far as to make a comparison to the ill-fated season of “The Dukes of Hazzard” when Bo and Luke Duke were replaced by lookalike cousins Coy and Vance.
There were also many profane responses, with the main complaint seeming to be this: Ashton Kutcher has a distinct lack of tiger blood.
Nonetheless, he is undaunted.
“I can’t wait to get to work with this ridiculously talented 2.5 team and I believe we can fill the stage with laughter that will echo in viewers’ homes,” said Kutcher in a statement. “I can’t replace Charlie Sheen but I’m going to work my ass off to entertain the hell out of people!”
The experts are divided.
“I am far from impressed,” said Eric Hochberger, who recaps “Two and a Half Men” episodes for TVFanatic.com. “The move comes across as an attempt to tap into a younger generation, one familiar with Kutcher from his days on Fox and MTV. I don’t think it will work.”
Jace Lacob, the TV columnist for the Daily Beast, shrugged off the news. “Had zero interest in ‘Two and a Half Men’ going into this week,” he tweeted. “Now, I have even less interest than that.”
Tim Cuprisin of OnMilwaukee.com, though, is one of the few critics who watches “Two and a Half Men” for pleasure. He’s certainly one of the few who admits to it.
“It’s mindless humor,” Cuprisin said. “It makes me laugh.”
But over the last season, he says, Sheen’s character hit a little too close to home. Originally, he was a carefree jingle writer who attracted beautiful young women to his beach house. But after his fiancee left him, he turned into a caricature. Of Charlie Sheen.
“He became an alcoholic who didn’t control himself,” Cuprisin said. “The girls he picked up weren’t from bars. They were prostitutes. I don’t know if even [Sheen] knew how pathetic his character was becoming.”
If the show is going to survive, a radical change might be its best shot. “It could be a completely new show,” Cuprisin said. There’s no word on how Kutcher would be written into the series, but he’s still got those “’70s Show” chops.
“There’s a reason he’s where he is today,” Cuprisin said. “You’ve got to give the guy credit.”
April Bernard, senior TV editor at Us Weekly, thinks CBS has made a good move.
“He’s a popular star with youth appeal, and I think they got a real bargain with him,” she said. There are no numbers confirmed, but with Sheen’s salary gone, “I think they could be saving up to 50 percent,” she estimated.
One more bonus: “He’s also got lots of A-list friends that could guest star,” pointed out Bernard.
Sheen himself had nothing bad to say about his replacement. “Kutcher is a sweetheart and a brilliant comedic performer,” he told TMZ.
(Then he added: “Oh, wait, so am I!”)
“Enjoy the show, America,” Sheen said. “Enjoy seeing a 2.0 in the demo every Monday, WB.”
The question of demographics is an interesting one. There’s no doubt that Sheen ruled men aged 18-49. If that audience is alienated, though, Kutcher might be able to provide some new (non-tiger) blood.
Kutcher, the first person to attract more than 1 million Twitter followers in 2009, continues to make maximum use of social media — even if it means tweeting a photo of wife Demi Moore bending over in a white bikini.
We can thank Kutcher for “Punk’d” and all its imitators. He also produced “Beauty and the Geek” and “The Real Wedding Crashers.” Last year, Kutcher was named one of Time magazine’s Top 100 Most Influential People. Kutcher is on top of trends — when he’s not starting them.
If there’s anything that CBS needs, it’s younger viewers. And something truly shocking could happen to the testosterone tank that is “Two and a Half Men.”
“I think that Ashton Kutcher skews more female than male,” Cuprisin said.
In fact, it might not be a bad idea to tinker with the title. After all, the “half” man, Angus T. Jones, has grown into a strapping 17-year-old. And Kutcher would probably be classified as a “man-child,” or possibly a “naughty puppy.”
As long as Chuck Lorre is revamping the series, he might want to keep his options open and go with the title “Three Men and a Little Lady.”