Sunday, March 13, 2011

Two & a Half Men: Season 9 in Our Hands

POP QUIZ. You’re a TV writer who has been lucky enough to land yourself a job on a sitcom that doesn’t involve a lot of writing. Just a lot of the same jokes and situations over and over again. It’s a great paycheck. Then, suddenly, out of “nowhere” the star of your show gets fired for whatever reason and your paycheck is no longer going to come so easily. You need to write him out of the show. What do you do? What. Do you. Do?

I’m not here to judge the ridiculousness that’s going on with Two and a Half Men right now. I don’t want to comment on which side I take; who is crazy, who is sick, and who is an entitled a-hole (though it is possible all three of those is the same guy). I’m here to ask the hard question. How would you re-write this show? Cards on the table, I’m not a fan of this particular CBS sitcom. In fact, I’m really only a fan of one CBS sitcom, so I’m not going to try to understand what draws people to love this show. But I am going to let you know how I would do it. And I really, really want to know how you would bring Two and a Half Men into the next season. And for the purpose of this game, let’s pretend that killing the entire cast is not a possibility.

There are several ideas floating around out there. The easiest path is to simply kill off Charlie Sheen’s Charlie, he is after all an alcoholic man-whore. Personally, I think that’s too easy.

Here is my proposal: Charlie never existed.

Yep. Let’s go Dallas/St. Elsewhere on this bitch.

After his marriage died, Alan Harper had a serious mental breakdown. He’s spent the last eight years in a mental hospital with the delusion that he had an older brother who let him move into his Malibu home with him. We find each of the people in the show have been in Alan’s life, just with slightly different roles. Jake is still his son, who visits every weekend and in an attempt to soothe his father plays along and gets to know his “Uncle Charlie,” who the doctor, played by Ryan Stiles, believes is just a part of Alan’s personality that has been dormant for many years. Rose, Charlie’s crazy neighbor, is another patient of course, who is obsessed with figuring out who Charlie is. And Berta is a nurse, one that needs to work on bedside manner, but is hilarious and lovable. Even the TV jingles he hears on the rec room television make their way into his fantasies. Season nine opens with Alan finally coming out of his stupor (more or less) and then moving into a half-way house with another former patient (insert 80’s movie-star here - fingers crossed it's someone awesome like James Spader), and Alan’s mother hires Berta to moonlight as his personal caretaker.

And hypothetical hilarity ensues.

New sets, new characters, new issues, and more importantly, new jokes. Now, I'm not going to do all the work here, this new character is a clean slate, do with him what you will Mr. Lorre. I'd like to see some real depth and raw emotion from this guy, but I know he'll probably be just like the Charlie in Alan's head, which might make for some interesting jokes and confusion here and there. So take it and run! It's a freebie*.

Your turn! What route would you take the Harpers down? Would Charlie die hilariously or perhaps just become a vegetable after a horrible sex swing accident? Would a jilted ex slip Drano in his scotch? How can we save a show from itself?

*Freebie is used generously here of course. If by some odd stroke of sick fate, this show takes my advice, I expect generous compensation. I mean, they paid some dude two million an episode to play himself.

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