Friday, January 23, 2004

Into the Cryer

I'm always happy to encounter a network sitcom that actually makes me laugh, and I laughed a lot Monday when I finally caught CBS' "Two And A Half Men," starring two actors I'm inclined to like, Jon Cryer and Charlie Sheen. Cryer is probably best known in the role of Duckie, Molly Ringwald's geeky friend in the 1986 John Hughes film Pretty In Pink. Charlie Sheen made his name--or, at any rate, reiterated his father Martin Sheen's name--in films like Platoon and Wall Street, but after some PR difficulties Charlie retreated to network television, where as an ailing Michael J. Fox's replacement he amusingly deadpanned his way through the later episodes of the credible ABC sitcom "Spin City."

And now comes "Two And A Half Men," the premise of which has Sheen as a late 30ish hipster bachelor whose life changes when brother Cryer, reeling from a marital separation, moves himself and his apple-cheeked young son (Angus T. Jones) into Sheen's life and SoCal beachfront house. The presence of ten-year-old Jones of course leads to the sort of from-the-mouths-of-babes wisecracks that writers of mediocre sitcoms can't seem to resist giving children, but otherwise the show--judging only from the one episode I saw, of course--is smart and funny, with a lot of genuinely good jokes about hangovers, penises and nympho soccer moms.

Is there something wrong with me? I dislike most popular sitcoms, especially "Everybody Loves Raymond" and "Friends," which in its final days NBC is touting as the best comedy ever (?). "Friends" leaves me utterly cold. It never makes me laugh. (Okay, Lisa Kudrow sometimes makes me laugh.) So when I find a sitcom that does make me laugh, like "That '70s Show" and "Will & Grace" and even the ill-starred "Bette," I get excited. Like Ed Wynn in Mary Poppins, I love to laugh. I hope "Two And A Half Men" continues to make me laugh.

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