n Monday, the premiere of Two and a Half Men aired on the same night as Comedy Central's brutal roast of Charlie Sheen, but it may actually be the CBS sitcom that was more vicious to its former star. The episode opened with Charlie's funeral, and all of the women scorned by the lothario showed up to, as guest star Jenny McCarthy crudely noted, spit on his casket. Charlie's mother used the rapt funeral audience to try selling Charlie's Malibu beach house. Learning that Charlie "exploded like a balloon full of meat" after falling in front of a Paris train, nephew Jake complained that he was hungry. A few herpes and fart jokes later, Sheen's replacement, Ashton Kutcher, showed up, soaking wet from swimming to Charlie's house after a botched suicide-by-drowning attempt. Kutcher plays a heartbroken billionaire named Walden Schmidt, who bought Charlie's house — only to walk naked around it no fewer than three times. Clothed or otherwise, how did Kutcher do as Sheen's replacement?
Nudity aside, he failed to make an impression: Sitcom characters should fit into an easily-defined mold, says Todd VanDerWerff at The A.V. Club. But as Walden, Kutcher is asked to play several different character types at once — and none succeeds. He doesn't pull off the accidental playboy or the sad sack routine — no way is a billionaire who looks like Kutcher "that sad" — and he's even less convincing playing obliviously attractive. At the very least, though, the character offered a chance to break from the "Ha, ha Charlie Sheen's an asshole" jokes in favor of of "Ashton Kutcher: Big Penis" jokes.
"Two and a Half Men — Nice to meet you, Walden Schmidt"
Kutcher's disappointing performance is the writers' fault: We get it, says David Hinckley at the New York Daily News. Kutcher has no problem baring it all. By the third act of the premiere, "the writers had clearly decided that walking around naked was Walden's best shot at a laugh." Writers will need to find a way to utilize a clothed Kutcher if he's going to get any real laughs. Saddled with repetitive "well-hung" jokes, Kutcher didn't have much of a chance to establish chemistry with the cast. "New sheriff, new abs. Now we wait to see if it finds new jokes."
"Two and a Half Men debuts Ashton Kutcher in Charlie Sheen's place, but actor fails at being funny"
Actually, he fit in just fine: Kutcher did a solid job in his debut, says Ken Tucker at Entertainment Weekly. He proved a worthy replacement, and his joke delivery was "nearly as poker-faced fine as Sheen's was." If anyone is underwhelmed by the premiere, it's probably because the summer's Charlie Sheen Meltdown hoopla made audiences briefly forget that Two and a Half Men is actually "quite a crappy little show."
"Ashton Kutcher joined Two and a Half Men, and Charlie Sheen was roasted"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 31 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Why atheism doesn't have the upper hand over religion
- The world's dumbest idea: Taxing solar energy
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Why would a young person today be religious?
- 14 wonderful words with no English equivalent
- Why I'm a pro-life liberal
- He said he was leaving. She ignored him.
- Why we can't stop procrastinating, according to science
- Why Good Friday is so important to Christians
Subscribe to the Week