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Charlie vs Ashton

I’m tired of pretending that Ashton Kutcher doesn’t suck (in Two and a Half Men),” the ever-irrepressible Charlie Sheen lashed out, shortly after the baby-faced star took over the reins of the hilarious sitcom after Sheen got the sack. While he later apologised for the remark, we at Team t2 are quick to agree.

For us, Two and a Half Men has become synonymous with Sheen’s Charlie Harper, a serial womaniser with a caustic tongue and a ready quip. Walden Schmidt, who plays a dot-com billionaire refusing to grow up, just hasn’t managed to make the cut yet. [The debut season featuring Kutcher is currently being telecast on STAR World.]

But before we get to why Walden Schmidt can’t hold a candle — or condom in show speak — to Charlie Harper, let us rewind to the beginning. First on air in 2003, Two and a Half Men became an instant smash-hit. The laugh-a-second shenanigans of Charlie, a hedonistic jingle-maker with a plush pad on the Malibu beachfront who doesn’t think twice — make that once — before making a play for anything in a skirt (all to get rid of that!), his basket case of a brother Alan (played by the absolutely brilliant Jon Cryer) who, unlike Charlie, never gets lucky with women, and Alan’s teenage son Jake, a dolt with an IQ of 10 but rewarded with the show’s best lines, became the reason why viewers tuned in every night. And then there was ‘boss’ Berta, the housekeeper who rarely let Charlie have the last word.

Last year, Sheen was booted out of the show after a binge session of drink and drug that went out of control and a subsequent war of words with Two and a Half Men maker Chuck Lorre. ‘How can anyone be Charlie Harper but Sheen?’ wondered everyone. Ashton Kutcher was signed on, and to the relief of fans, it was revealed that Charlie Harper had been bumped off and Ashton Kutcher would be brought in to give the show a much-needed fillip. So, Walden Schmidt stepped into our lives. And took the humour out of Two and a Half Men.

t2 lists five reasons why Charlie soars and Walden bores!

Charlie was everything that Walden isn’t. Suave — even in shorts — and with a quick eye for a pretty face, it was Charlie’s smooth-talking ways that gave the show its life. Walden, from the moment he walked in through Charlie’s balcony after a failed attempt to commit suicide at being ditched by wife Bridget, was a no-show. Unkempt (though that beard is thankfully gone now) and unsmart, Walden is just a little too daft, despite being a billionaire. If Charlie never allowed a woman to pin him down, Walden is a yawn on that front — he still hasn’t got over Bridget and even his relationship with current squeeze Zoey is going nowhere.

Charlie always had the best lines. Walden stutters and stammers through it all. Charlie was a ladies man, but Walden — despite being better looking than Charlie could ever hope to be — can’t seem to have a decent conversation without lapsing into a seriously annoying semi-baby talk drawl.

Charlie made everyone else look good. Alan and Charlie were a team and their quick repartee made Two and a Half Men what it is. But while Alan still is the funniest thing about the show, the same can’t be said about Jake. Angus T. Jones — who made the half in Two and a Half Men count right through to Season 8 — is now an awkward 19, his cheeky spontaneity giving way to pointless inanities. Berta flits in and out but has too little to do or say.

Walden is just plain dumb. A little too dumb, actually. How does a man who has food fights with random kids in eateries make so many billions, you wonder. Kutcher’s Kelso in That ’70s Show was dumb too, but Kelso had something that Walden clearly doesn’t — charm.

Charlie held fort on Two and a Half Men, shouldering the show with his straight-faced sense of humour. With Walden, the makers have to come up with cheap gags involving lesbians and even a Walden-Alan liplock. Eeeeew!

Bring Charlie back, pretty please?

CHARLIE SHEEN OR ASHTON KUTCHER — THE T2 CAMPUS TEAM PULLS NO PUNCHES

I was an avid watcher till Angus T. Jones (Jake Harper), grew up to lose all his charm as the ‘half’ in Two and a Half Men. The series with a strong ensemble cast headed by the womanising jingle-maker Charlie Harper, his uptight brother Alan with serious mommy issues, Alan’s adorable son Jake, the overweening housekeeper Berta, the devious Evelyn Harper or mommy dearest whose sole presence drives Charlie to his shrink played by the hysteric Jane Lynch and Rose, Charlie’s famous stalker-cum-neighbour, madeTwo and a Half Men an instant hit.

Walden Schmidt was successful enough to do just one thing — remind all of us that Charlie Harper was what made Two and a Half Men click! I definitely miss the hedonist Charlie and would prefer him any day over the daft and bare-bodied Shmidt, a character I find impossible to empathise with

Inane storylines and a conscious effort on maker Chuck Lorre’s part to drive Charlie down the path of sobriety with a thriving relationship, made the series quite unappealing to me in the long run. Or maybe with the arrival of The Big Bang Theory, another Chuck Lorre creation, Charlie took a backseat. After Charlie Sheen got publicly ousted, my interest naturally piqued. I tuned in this season to see if Ashton Kutcher could take over the mantle. But Walden Schmidt was successful enough to do just one thing — remind all of us that Charlie Harper was what made Two and a Half Men click!

Walden is a billionaire with a failed marriage who lands up at Alan’s doorstep after a failed suicide attempt. There are obvious similarities with Charlie of course — promiscuity, affluence and avarice, mainly, but Lorre has made sure that Walden would be no homage to Charlie. Charlie was practically erased from the scene with the similarities close enough to revisit elements enjoyed by its loyal viewers. The characters have seen no growth and have mostly regressed. Walden certainly has a certain Kelso hangover,another character played by Kutcher in That 70s Show.

I definitely miss the hedonist Charlie and would prefer him any day over the daft and bare-bodied — why does he walk around without clothes so often? — Schmidt, a character I find impossible to empathise with.

Mr Sheen seems to have taken the bag of humour with him as his last revenge. He had the last laugh. We clearly didn’t.

Shounak Majumder
Asutosh College

Shrestha Saha,
Presidency University

Charlie Sheen himself was Two and a Half Men and without the intrigue of how Charlie will mess up next with his philandering ways, the show just falls flat on its face. Ashton Kutcher maybe burning charcoal-hot but he is no replacement for Charlie. Also, the jokes no longer evoke laughter and are borderline annoying. Two and a Half Men was better off with a series finale after Charlie’s death.

 

Debdatta Sen
St. Xavier’s College

Ashton Kutcher is not as good as Charlie Harper. Charlie is a born playboy and he is himself on screen. He could do daughters, mothers and grandmothers! Ashton is a bit too much of a sugar-boy romantic. I really miss Charlie.


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