R.I.P. Charlie Harper? Deadline reports that the season premiere of CBS's Two and a Half Men, ostensibly a comedy, will begin with a funeral for the character played by Charlie Sheen. After the character's (many) ex-girlfriends grieve his passing, his home will be put on the market: Enter replacement star Ashton Kutcher as a prospective buyer. Speculation is that Kutcher purchases the house, precipitating some co-habitation arrangement with the show's remaining "one and a half men." Of course, killing off Sheen's character precludes the prospect that the strangely popular actor could ever return to the show. Smart scripting?

This could be risky: This attention-getting twist makes sense in a way, says Margaret Lyons at New York. Two and a Half Men has always been "assiduously unsentimental" and the very public, crass "Sheen debacle" that led to his firing has overshadowed public interest in the show's next moves. Still, killing off the bafflingly popular actor's character with no plausible way for him to return? "Bold moves."
"Expect to see Charlie's funeral on the season premiere of Two and a Half Men"

Actually, killing off Sheen is smart: There's a precedent for this strategy, says Lynette Rice at Entertainment Weekly. In 1987, producers of the family sitcom Valerie's Family clashed with star Valerie Harper, so they used a fatal car crash to explain her character's "sudden departure." Sandy Duncan replaced Harper, and the show continued. "Lucky for [Two and a Half Men show runner Chuck] Lorre," it probably doesn't matter how he handles Sheen's exit. Funeral or not, the season premiere "will no doubt attract millions of old and new fans."
"Charlie Sheen, dead and buried in the Two and a Half Men season premiere?"

But a sitcom funeral could be really depressing: Opening America's No. 1 sitcom with a funeral seems "incredibly dark and grim," says Mark Perigard at The Boston Herald. Sheen's character was loved by his family on the show. Even with the inevitable off-color laughs, "who wants to see Charlie's mother, brother, and nephew" mourning him? This seems like a cruel power move by Lorre, who "wants to ensure that everyone knows — including and especially Charlie Sheen — that Charlie Harper can never return to the show."
"Two and a Half Men to kill off Charlie Sheen"