Is Charlie Sheen representing reality in his sitcoms, or is he trying to shape it? Better question: Do we still have to care about him?
In his previous show, CBS’s"Two and a Half Men,"Sheen played Charlie, a rich, womanizing bachelor who skated through life making off-color jokes while searching for his next sexual conquest. The series didn’t seem to be too far off from his actual life. And then ... well, we all know what happened, with the tiger blood, the tour, the #winning and whatnot.
Since revealing more about a drug-addled life with his "goddesses" and taking subsequent heat for the whole operation, Sheen has more or less stayed out of the limelight, maybe learning a lesson or two about humility. But the new Sheen sure doesn't seem nearly as fun -- or as funny.
In his latest incarnation, FX’s "Anger Management,"he plays Charlie, a former baseball-player-turned-therapist who specializes in patients with anger issues while working out rage troubles of his own. Does this mean the new Charlie is all grown up? Sort of.
The new show, which premieres 8 p.m. Thursday, plays on much of the potty humor and off-color jokes from "Men," -- really, a gay inmate joke during a prisoner therapy session? -- but brings significantly less to the table.
The funniest riffs come from perhaps the most contrived plot point. Charlie is best friends with fellow therapist Kate (Selma Blair), whom he is also having sex with. And in the pilot, they become each other’s therapists, putting off the physical relationship for about 30 seconds before getting frisky on her office chair.
Believe it or not, the dialogue between those two deliver some of the best zingers of the first few episodes: Lines such as, "Just go with it. You can be the therapist. I’ll tell you stuff, and if you want, you can play with yourself while you’re doing it," and "If you're going to stand there and criticize me, could you at least take off your top?" come with little explanation needed, yet warrant the canned laugh-track giggles.
The rest is a bit of a mish-mash of Charlie interacting with his teenage daughter (Daniella Bobadilla) and way-too-amicable ex-wife (Shawnee Smith), while dealing with a variety of stereotypical patients (the gay guy, the old guy, the feisty woman who has been done wrong by hear cheating boyfriend, the stalker-ish dork who instantly falls for said feisty girl ... and, of course, the aforementioned inmates).
With Sheen, "Men" was immensely popular with audiences, though you might be hard pressed to find a water cooler conversation about that great one-liner from Charlie, Alan or whatever the kid’s name is. The show caught lightning in a bottle, and from the latest ratings with replacement Ashton Kutcher (not bad, but not nearly as good), Sheen can’t help but feel he had much to do with that.
Will his latest endeavor prove as fruitful? Judging from the chuckle-worthy moments that were few and far between, it doesn’t look good. But really, was "Two and a Half Men" with Sheen all that funny, either?
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