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DVD Review: Two and a Half Men – The Complete First Season

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Charlie Harper, the main character on the CBS sitcom Two and a Half Men, is a womanizer, a cad, an alcoholic, a gambler, insensitive, and pretty self-absorbed. He is also the funniest current character on a non-cable sitcom.

Played with not so surprising ease by Charlie Sheen (you can pretty much assume that Sheen didn’t have to use any acting tricks to get into the head of Charlie Harper), Harper lives a life most guys would die for (did I mention he is a successful jingle writer with a house on the beach in California and the bevy of 10s that he indulges in casual trysts with?). His utopian bachelorhood is thrown a big wrench when his high-strung, polar opposite chiropractor brother, Alan (played by John Cryer who, after two decades in the business, finally is getting the recognition he deserves) gets the boot from his wife and, with his son Jake in tow, invades the non-domesticated world that was all that Charlie knew.

So while the premise of Two and a Half Men is reminiscent of The Odd Couple, with a kid thrown in, the show is well written with a clever format and storylines.

Although Sheen and Cryer do get the lion's share of screen time, the supporting players are responsible for some of the best moments. Melanie Lynskey (who made her screen debut in the 1994 cult flick Heavenly Creatures) is charmingly crazy as Charlie’s neighbor/stalker, Rose; Conchata Ferrell ransacks every scene she's in from the cast as the brash housekeeper Berta; and Holland Taylor (who was also one of the high points in the early '80s sitcom, Bosom Buddies, where she was career lady Ruth Dunbar, Tom Hanks and Peter Scolari’s boss at a fictitious ad agency) is stellar as the Harper boys' mother from hell, Evelyn Harper.

Season one, which is finally out on DVD, is a great set of 24 classic episodes. “Go East on Sunset Until You Reach the Gates of Hell” is one of the highlights of the set, especially witnessing Evelyn trying in vain to relate to/entertain Jake (her grandson) with near disastrous results while “Big Flappy Bastards” shows Alan in all his glorious/humorous henpecked-ness and absence of assertion which would be the basis of the charm and realism of his character (how many married guys like him have you seen?). The arrival of season one of Two and a Half Men on DVD is long overdue and is proof that the show had the inklings of a classic sitcom from the start.

Since really quality sitcoms are getting rarer each new TV season, it is good to see that  CBS has renewed the show for a fifth season, as the quality of the show was still strong last year.

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