‘Two and a Half Men’ Updates: RIP Charlie Harper…Hello Walden Schmidt?

There’s been a lot going on over at Two and a Half Men ever since Charlie Sheen was fired. Some of it you may already know, some you may not. Here’s a look into what’s been happening since Mr. Sheen’s career on the series went bye-bye.

The Great Man Hunt

Who the hell could replace Charlie Harper on the biggest sitcom on TV? Who could even start to fill those shoes, take up where the boozing, womanizing, bowling shirt wearing jingle writer left off?

Luckily, the creators of the series made the right choice in not having a new actor play Charlie Harper a la Darrin Stevens on the 60s series Bewitched. A lot of names were tossed around for the new role that would take Sheen’s place in season 9: John Stamos, Robert Downey Jr, Hugh Grant, and Bob Saget among others. Finally, someone from the list was chosen: Ashton Kutcher.

Like many people, I too was skeptical of the choice and still am to some degree. To me he doesn’t seem like the type of actor that would fit into the Two and a Half Men universe; of course, it’s also hard to see anyone else take the place of Charlie Sheen/Charlie Harper after eight years.

Movin’ On

Meanwhile, Charlie Sheen was on his one-man Torpedoes of Truth tour, which had its own ups and down depending on he city. His goddesses came and went, he did an awesome comedy short for Funny or Die, and he continued to demand a public trial for his lawsuit against Warner Bros. and Chuck Lorre (co-creator of Men).

I still wonder if Sheen’s erratic and seemingly insane behavior was all just an act; that he really wanted to get fired from the series and this was the way he chose to do it. Granted, it’s an odd way to get out of a job that pays upwards of $2 million a week, but I’m sure he had his reasons.

It does appear that Sheen has gained traction in the sitcom world once again, and has started work on Anger Management, a series based on the Adam Sandler/Jack Nicholson comedy from 2003.

The Golden Boy

Kutcher as the replacement, buzz began about who he would play on the series during season 9. Last season was cut short, so many also speculated over how the writers would deal with Charlie Harper vanishing from the series (but we’ll get to that next). News leaked piece by piece; a new poster outside of the WB studios told of the premiere date: September 19, 2011.

And then, it happened. Kutcher’s character was introduced: Walden Schmidt would be a lonely internet billionaire who moves into Charlie’s home. Was Walden Charlie Harper’s long lost son? A cousin? A nephew? Any relation to these characters??? No.

This I found interesting since the whole dynamic of the series revolved in the past around Charlie and Alan’s relationship as brothers. It was the glue that held them together despite the times they despised each other. It was the reason why Charlie let Alan and Jake stay with him in Malibu.

My question is how will they incorporate Walden into this world and make it somewhat believable for the audience. Most of us will miss Charlie; you can’t avoid that fact. Can a nation of loyal Men viewers warm up to a new character played by Ashton Kutcher who has no relation to any other characters on the show?

Then word came about Kutcher’s giant mega-trailer: two stories, expands, satellite TV, customized features. It’s a huge, extravagant luxury that even Sheen didn’t get after all those years of work on the show. Some close to the show said it was too much, another way for WB and Lorre to stick it to Charlie Sheen. And unless Kutcher will be living in the trailer for the next nine months of production with his family, I’m inclined to agree.

Still more rumors swirled that Kutcher was getting comedy advice from Sarah Silverman. Why he wouldn’t seek help and advice from people who work on the series, I’m not sure. But it also was rumored that she wanted to be part of the writing staff for the ninth season as well. I’m really not sure how I feel about that.

It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye

So how would Charlie Harper meet his demise? Drug overdose? Alcohol-related death? Car accident? During an orgy with a bunch of sexy stewardesses? It’s an answer many were waiting for, since it was clear that Charlie Harper was no longer going to be on the show…ever again.

If you want to see Charlie Harper’s first funeral on the show, check out “The Devil’s Lube” from season six, episode 11. This funeral was a dream sequence that was sparked by the death of Charlie’s good friend (played by Sheen’s brother Emilio Estevez). It’s a very funny sequence, and you get to hear the great James Earl Jones (who officiates the funeral) say some pretty hilarious things.

Back on the 1970s series Good Times, actor John Amos wanted out of the series since he didn’t like the way young African-Americans were portrayed on the series, especially by actor Jimmy “J.J.” Walker who played his son. He fought with series creator Norman Lear until things became so heated that Lear finally killed Amos’s character off for good. There was no way Amos would ever return to the show and Lear made sure of it.

While the dispute between Lear and Amos wasn’t as public as the Sheen/Lorre feud, it does make one realize that history does indeed repeat itself in some capacity even in the universe of sitcoms. So how would Mr. Harper be taken down?

**FUN FACT: Amos plays the role of Ed, Chelsea’s father’s lover introduced in season seven of the series. I’d like to know how Amos feels about this whole mess given he went through a similar debacle.

[SPOILER ALERT]

On Friday, August 5, the season premiere was taped at Warner Bros. and opened with Charlie Harper’s funeral. Every woman he had ever been with over the course of the series (and that’s a lot of women) was at the funeral, including other familiar faces from the past eight years.

It was Rose who revealed how Charlie died; she and Charlie ran away to Europe together in one of the final episodes to feature Sheen. Apparently, after they married, she caught him in the shower with another woman. Later at the train station, he “accidentally” slipped and fell in front of the train and became – in her words – ‘an explosion of meat.’

Boom! Dead for good. I guess we don’t have to wonder if they’ll pull a soap opera or super hero resurrection on his character if Lorre and Sheen ever resolve their dispute.

Also in attendance was John Stamos who recounts a time when he and Charlie Harper shared an ill-fated threesome together. Good times.

[SPOILER END]

And the New Guy?

Apparently the reaction to Kutcher was mixed, which is understandable. People aren’t really sure what to think or how to respond to this stranger taking over territory that has been marked and owned by another character for so long. I have to admit that I still have my doubts as I’m sure many others do about how this will all play out. Will it work? Will ratings drop fast after the premiere episode? It will be interesting to watch.

Note that when Phil Hartman sadly was killed in real life and then his character on Newsradio was replaced by Jon Lovitz that the first episode had strong ratings, it was the rest of the season that suffered from Hartman’s absence.

Who’s Watching What?

So, The Roast of Charlie Sheen on Comedy Central will air at the same time as the Two and a Half Men premiere on Monday, September 19. It’s a clever programming ploy and makes me wonder what people will watch and what people will DVR or watch online. Sheen has already come out and stated that he will be having a party the night of the Men premiere to “watch his death” on TV with friends. I’m very curious to hear from Charlie about his thoughts on the episode.

Like most, I will be tuning in to see how this all plays out. While I’m not thrilled about the choice of Kutcher or his character, I still find the rest of the cast extremely funny and worth watching with or without Charlie Harper/Charlie Sheen. While it doesn’t mean I’ll stay a loyal viewer the whole season, it does mean I will give it a chance.

What are your thoughts? Will you be watching the premiere, or The Roast of Charlie Sheen? Is it time for Two and Half Men to go? Should people give Ashton Kutcher a shot? Leave a comment and let us know!

The Women of Two and a Half Men:

April Bowlby

Megan Fox

Katy Mixon

Emmanuelle Vaugier

Jenny McCarthy

Jennifer Taylor

The Women of Charlie Sheen:

Bree Olson

Capri Anderson

Kacey Jordan

Melanie Rios

Related articles:

Is it Curtains for Two and a Half Men?

Two and a Half Men: Season 4 – DVD Review

Two and a Half Men: Season 5 – DVD Review

Two and a Half Men: Season 7 – DVD Review

Two and a Half Men: Season 8 – DVD Review

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