No returning TV show is inspiring as much curiosity, or is shrouded in as much secrecy, as the CBS sitcom Two and a Half Men, which grabbed headlines for firing star Charlie Sheen and replacing him with Ashton Kutcher. But recently, several plot and casting details have been leaked. What do we know so far?
1. Charlie will die a gruesome death
Deadline confirmed that the new season of Two and a Half Men will begin with a funeral for Charlie Sheen's character, Lothario Charlie Harper. And according to The Daily News, the back-story behind that death is going to be pretty brutal. After running off to Paris to elope with his "stalkerish" neighbor Rose, Charlie supposedly slips on a subway platform and is crushed by an oncoming train. Rose, delivering a eulogy at his funeral — attended by a parade of Charlie's former girlfriends — will reportedly describe the accident as a "meat explosion."
2. Ashton Kutcher's character is lovesick
According to leaks about Kutcher's character, he'll be playing one Walden Schmidt, "a billionaire Internet entrepreneur going through a nasty divorce." On David Letterman's talk show last week, Kutcher revealed that Schmidt is so lovesick that he's actually suicidal: "I may, in some way, shape, or form, be tryin' to kill myself." But not so lovesick that he can't house-shop: Kutcher's character is one of the prospective buyers (rumored to include John Stamos and Jenny McCarthy) who tour Charlie's house in the second part of the premiere, according to Deadline. It's expected that Kutcher not only purchases the house, but works out an arrangement with the other one-and-a-half residents that keeps the show's Three's Company dynamic intact.
3. Sheen is gone, but never forgotten
"This show has never had an ounce of sentimentality," says star Jon Cryer, as quoted by Entertainment Weekly. "It's not what we do." But that doesn't mean that Sheen's character will be erased from the sitcom's memory. "The history of the show does not go away at all," Cryer says, adding that the season's storyline will deal with the ramifications of Charlie's death — including, he teases, the possibility that a key character will need to be institutionalized due to the consequences of grief.
4. Alan is the new ladies' man
The season will bring a role-reversal for Cryer, who plays Charlie's more reserved, neurotic, and, thus, unlucky-in-love brother Alan. When Kutcher's character enters the picture, Alan discovers he's the more romantically experienced roommate for once and assumes the responsibilities of a mentor. As fans of the show might predict, "I'm a terrible mentor," says Cryer.
5. Expect dysfunctional romance
With Ashton Kutcher's character as the new focus of the show, expect Two and a Half Men to start peppering in new characters related to Walden Schmidt's life. First up will be Kutcher's ex-wife, played by Judy Greer (Arrested Development,The Wedding Planner). Former Ally McBeal star Courtney Thorne-Smith will also rejoin the series, reprising her role as a romantic interest for Jon Cryer's character — a part she played for 10 episodes last season.