In case you haven't heard, Charlie Sheen has been in the news a lot this week. Something about tiger blood... and F-18s... and warlocks... and terrestrial realmed goddesses that help him win at... something.
It's all one interview-driven haze, but one thing is clear: there's no way Sheen takes on the persona of Charlie Harper again. Two and a Half Men has been shut down for the season and Chuck Lorre has repeatedly said he'll never air the series without this star.
I can't help but wonder: why the heck not?!?
I've never seen the show - I prefer sitcoms that are original, mature, funny - but friends tell me Sheen really does carry the whole thing (sorry, Jon Cryer). Still, that was said about George Clooney on ER, David Caruso on NYPD Blue, William Peterson on CSI. Lead actors often move on and a few fans are lost - but popular programs remain popular.
CSI is probably the most apt example. By most accounts, the drama has suffered creativity problems since Peterson's departure. It's no longer the ratings juggernaut it once was.
But it brought in a big name (Laurence Fishburne), still makes CBS millions per year and is still among the top 20 most-watched shows on TV. Is CSI more of an ensemble than Two and a Half Men? Yes. However, consider the following scenario:Sheen is fired (I'm ignoring all legal ramifications here because that's a different issue, and it also appears as though the actor and network will be battling it out in court regardless of the show returning or not); a known actor comes on board; and the series premieres in September behind more (free) publicity than it's ever enjoyed before.
You're telling me 20 million people won't tune in for that return episode?!? Assuming the jokes are at the same level, most will stick around. And even if Two and a Half Men eventually settles in at half the ratings it's been garnering over the past few years, it will still double those of Community. Incredibly depressing, but true.
So this just leaves one question: who should replace Sheen? CBS has reportedly met with John Stamos. Chris Connelly suggests Rob Lowe. I like both actors, although the thought of Lowe leaving Parks and Recreation makes me sadder than Ron Swanson at a meal without meat.
Here are my top three choices to join the show as a new character:
- Tony Danza: Show Cryer who the new boss in town should be!
- Kelsey Grammer: Just replace one veteran sitcom star/womanizer with another.
- Rob Schneider: His sense of humor is pretty much on par with Two and a Half Men, isn't it? Many dramatic actors are making the move to the small screen. Why not a comedic one?
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