Two and a Half Men is a show that in some ways is surprising to see on television. It is a show that features two brothers, Charlie (played by Charlie Sheen) and Allen (played by Jon Cryer). They are as different as you can imagine brothers being and it is a mix that makes it a great show.
The basic premise of the show has Allen, a mild-mannered chiropractor, who had a nasty divorce the year before and is paying a crippling amount of alimony to his ex-wife. Charlie is his successful, jingle-writing Lothario of a brother who agrees to take Allen and his son Jake (who at 11 is still an innocent and a great contrast to both characters) into his home since Allen cannot afford a house with all his money being paid out to his ex-wife.
Over the course of 24 episodes we follow the misadventures of a broken, naive man (Allen), the sex-obsessed, alcoholic (Charlie), and the young boy whose only goal is to be a couch potato (Jake). The show is crass, irreverent, pulls no punches, and is absolutely hilarious.
The second season of the show has the brothers and Jake starting to get a feel for each other and develop a rapport that feels natural to us. Filling out the cast we have the opinionated housekeeper Berta, Charlie and Allen's mother Evelyn, the creepily cute semi-stalker Rose, and Allen's ex-wife Judith. All of the supporting characters have great moments, whether it is Rose helping out with some form of psychology, Berta giving her straightforward opinion that cuts through all the bull, or Evelyn showing her somewhat tyrannical side as she chides her adult children.
This is an extended cast that producers and writers dream about — they are as perfect in their parts as the main cast are and add immensely to the show. All the actors work well together and the natural chemistry between them really shows in their performances.
But the show at its heart is all about the two and a half men who live together and throughout this season we see many memorable moments from all of them. There is Allen having a passionate fling that he thinks is love and then realizing it was just an affair with a married woman; Charlie having a website built about him that tips off all women ("most women Google the men they date" is a great quote from the episode) to his one-night stand ways; Jake being too much for Allen when an IRS audit is imminent and Charlie taking him over for a few days. The times Jake and Charlie are together are always gold.
While many episodes are very good, highlight episodes of the season are "Last Chance to See Those Tattoos", "Squab, Squab, Squab, Squab, Squab", and "Does This Smell Funny to You?" Each one of these episodes really shows the characters in all their glory; "Squab" in particular has Jake being a free-willed young kid who breaks Evelyn's spirit as she has him overnight. "Tattoos" brings us inside Charlie's world as a womanizer and what shows us what would happen if all the women knew his secrets. "Smell Funny" shows Allen at his neurotic best and has some of the finest Charlie/Jake lines of the season.
Two and a Half Men does not quite have an ongoing story arc per se (aside from the family drama), but it is a smart enough show in the way it remembers itself. Characters previously introduced (such as Judith's boyfriend, played by Ryan Stiles) are mentioned again or shown in later episodes. We also occasionally have references to previous events or situations that reward regular viewers but are not necessary to know to enjoy the show. What the series does do is refine the relationships between the characters and shows them growing together. This season is a really great one that shows the cast really building on the chemistry that was established in the first season and, despite the fighting and annoyances, shows that these people care for each other in their own way.
Two and a Half Men comes in a blue fold-open case and has all four discs arranged in their own overlapping slots. They have made it very easy to get at the discs and the liner art is actually very well done. The pictures enclosed show the family in a way that represents themselves. The DVD menus are simple but workable and are easy to navigate. In the form of extras there is a short featurette showing a day in the life on set, another one that shows the writing process, and finally a short gag reel. They are pretty good, but you have to think there is much more that they could have captured for this discs, like commentaries on select episodes, cast features, or interviews.
Two and a Half Men's original aspect ratio is 1.77, but they are presenting this release in a 16:9 widescreen format and it looks really great. Viewed in standard 480p DVD format the picture is crisp and colors are sharp; this is a great transfer for the format. Viewed with an upsampling DVD player on a high definition display the image is pretty amazing and the little details really stand out; Warner Home Video should be commended for the great transfer they gave us on this release.
The audio, while well done, is only presented in Dolby Digital 2.0, it does sound great but it would have been nice to see Warner start presenting their more popular series in 5.1 format for a better surround experience. Despite this the audio levels are very well done with laugh tracks and background music/noise never overshadowing the dialogue. There is a surprising amount of subtitle choices with English, French, Spanish, Chinese and Korean comprising the list.
The Final Word
If you are looking for a great sitcom that will make you laugh and smile throughout the entire season then Two and a Half Men Season 2 is the collection for you; it is a great show and is worth owning if you are a fan of the series. The only drawbacks I could see are the minimal extras and the audio format, but the show itself looks great and is very, very funny.