26 February 2011

The Sheen Is Gone Albeit Temporarily

After being a Loose Cannon (sic) on Alex Jones’ conspiracy radio show, Charlie Sheen finds himself temporarily out of a lucrative gig on Two and a Half Men.  The problem is that the raving and ribald rogue managed to put the cast and crew of his comedy out of work for the rest of the season.

Sheen bristled at being coerced into rehab after the unpleasantries of Sheen's naked rampage with a prostitute and a suitcase of cocaine that caused $7,000 damage at the Plaza Hotel in October 2010.  Along with his “hernia” episode last month.  Sheen lashed out at the show’s producer Chuck Lorre in several anti-semitic slurs.  Assuredly, this was not a slip of Sheen’s “gifted” tongue, as he continued the war with Lorre on TMZ.

Sheen’s hospitalization had already caused the Two and a Half Men crew to miss several episodes.  But after hearing repeated insults and Sheen’s addictive delusions of grandeur and contempt, the producer cancelled the rest of the season.

While it is gratifying to watch some celebrity schadenfreude, it is a pity that it comes at the expense of the rest of the cast.  Sheen is under the impression that he is sine-qua-non for Two and a Half Men.  But the long running bawdy comedy has been a sinful delight for many television viewers, with a talented ensemble cast.  In some ways, Sheen’s character has been somewhat superfluous this season, probably as writers needed to anticipate a prolonged Sheen absence.  The production needed to accommodate for Sheen’s institutional haircut on account of that man behaving badly.

If "Ubermensch" Sheen things that the world can not revolve without him, his lawyers had better read the fine print of his contract.  It would be surprising if CBS and Lorre Productions did not have some form of morality clause or pay or play termination.

While Lorre closed the comedy for this season, it is unclear if it will resume production.  The show is long in the tooth but it has fine ancillary players and several unresolved subplots.  Abandoning all might hurt further syndication sales.

Some entertainment observers have suggested cast substitutions.   An idea floating around for this season (until it was cancelled), was to have guest appearances, like Charlie’s father Martin Sheen.  There is the outside chance that Sheen’s role could be substituted to hobble to the comedic finish.  In Betwitched, Dick York was replaced by Dick Sargant as Darren for the last three seasons and viewers were not severely scandalized. When Michael Fox needed to get off Spin City for personal health reasons, ironically Charlie Sheen was brought in to City Hall to continue the series for two years, but as a different character.  This probably was done to ensure enough episodes for good syndication strippage.  There is little need for that after eight seasons of Two and a Half Men.

While Sheen’s character in Two and a Half Men is funny, it is not an acting stretch for him as it is premised on Sheen’s bad boy reputation. Personally, it would be poetic justice if Rob Lowe assumed the Charlie Harper character, especially mindful of Lowe’s undercovers “performance” at the 1988 Democrat convention.  Alas, Lowe is busy doing Parks and Recreation on NBC.

Although Chuck Lorre currently has a string of other hit comedies on CBS to keep him occupied, like The Big Bang Theory and Mike and Molly, it might behoove him to continue Two and Half Men for another season.  The show has hinted at the perils of being a bastard bachelor throughout, even having a mock funeral for Charlie and not just depicting a happy whoring drunk.  A couple of seasons ago, Two and Half Men intimated that Charlie was essentially lonely and was trying to grow into a real relationship, but that sensibility seemed stillborn.

Perhaps the writers of Two and Half Men can riff off of Sheen’s destructive lifestyle.  He can be put into rehab.  If Sheen insists on continuing his comedic cash cow, Sheen could have close encounters with a string of self-destructive celebutards inhabiting the TMZ.  Sheen could share the screen with Lindsey Lohan, Paris Hilton, Miley Cyrus, Mel Gibson, John Edwards, even Al Gore.  Not bad money for a walk on appearance.

Even if Charlie was not shown while in rehab, the show can go on without him.  Why not?-- as they mostly leech off of the largess of Charlie’s character, there is little reason for him to be present.  Maybe Herb (Ryan Stiles) can finally escape the clutches of Judith (his wife and Charlie’s brothers ex-wife).  If the Two and Half Men producers wanted a true denouement that would appeal to the show’s hedonistic sensibilities as well as an outreach to middle America, what if Alan (Jon Cryer) actually inherits Charlie’s Malibu place–would his ex wife Judith (Marin Hinkle) see him in a different light, especially after “her” child support runs out, and try to reconcile?

Sorry Charlie, but Two and a Half Men doesn’t really need you.  Don’t worry, no crocodile tears will be shed for Sheen.  He still collects part of the $2 Billion in syndication royalties.  And rumor has it, he will parlay his rants into an HBO series.  But if he is still looking to pick up work, he would be the perfect co-host for the revamped CNN primetime show “In The Arena” with Eliot Spitzer.

No comments: