Doing the Math: Here’s How CBS Can Subtract Sheen and Still Come Up With “Two and a Half Men”

If you’ve paid any attention whatsoever to the entertainment news coming out of Hollywood in the past few weeks, then you can’t help but be aware of Charlie Sheen’s increasingly strange shenanigans and how they’ve directly affected the rest of the cast and crew of CBS’s long-running and ridiculously-successful sitcom, “Two and a Half Men.” Who would’ve thought that the infamous hotel incident in October 2010 would’ve proven to be one of the lesser moments on the actor’s ever-lengthening list of embarrassing incidents?

Now, after making the decision to bypass traditional rehab in favor of curing his drug and alcohol issues with his mind, Sheen has been running off at the mouth so much that CBS has pulled the plug and decided to call off the remainder of the episodes that had been planned for this season.

But what of next season? More importantly, given all of the nasty remarks that Sheen’s made toward series creator Chuck Lorre, will there even be a next season?

We know that CBS, Warner Brothers Television, and Lorre have ostensibly ruled out continuing “Two and a Half Men” without Sheen, but if we’re to be honest, it seems like the better tactic would be for the whole lot of them to say, “Hey, Charlie, read our lips: one monkey don’t stop no show,” then find a new man to join Jon Cryer and Angus T. Jones and keep the title intact. We know things are kind of crazy over there at the moment, though, so we thought we’d at least try to help them a bit with the casting process.

Sure, they say they won’t continue without Charlie…but, then, they haven’t seen our suggestions yet.

First, let’s get the jokes out of our system, shall we? Yes, we chuckled at the thought of having Martin Sheen step into his son’s shoes, and we also had a laugh over the idea of Emilio Estevez taking over, since, really, what else has he got going on? We considered the possibility of Michael J. Fox getting a little bit of “Spin City” payback by having him replace Charlie, and at one point we also said, “Hey, how about Randy Quaid? If anyone can make Charlie Sheen look like the sane one…”

The following folks, however, are men that we think really would help keep “Two and a Half Men” on the air without having the number of laughs per minute fall below acceptable levels.

Woody Harrelson

Why he’d be a perfect fit: Harrelson got his first big break in television, thanks to playing dim-bulb bartender Woody Boyd on “Cheers,” but even though he eased into a perfectly reasonable feature-film career during the late ’90s, he wasn’t afraid to step back onto the small screen for a recurring role (seven episodes) on “Will & Grace” in 2001. These days, Harrelson’s mostly been pulling supporting-role parts, and although “Zombieland” was a pleasant exception, we can still see him accepting another sitcom gig, especially since the reality of the situation is that he’d pick up a decent chunk of change for a job that A) would be relatively short-term, and B) he could pretty much do in his sleep.

Jamie Kennedy

Why he’d be a perfect fit: Although your personal mileage may vary on his effectiveness, mainstream America has embraced Kennedy’s comedy on several occasions over the past decade. Between his self-titled “Experiment” running for three seasons on The WB and the continued cult success of his films “Malibu’s Most Wanted” and “Kickin’ It Old School” on DVD, he definitely qualifies as a proven comedic commodity for the “Two and a Half Men” crowd. Plus, he’s got at least a little bit of sitcom street cred behind the scenes as well, having co-created and written for The WB’s “Living with Fran,” Fran Drescher’s short-lived post-“Nanny” series. Most importantly, though, Kennedy secured honest dramatic work from 2008 to 2010 as part of the “Ghost Whisperer” cast, which means that he has a recent history as a member of the CBS family.

D.B. Sweeney

Why he’d be a perfect fit: Well, for one thing, we’d be willing to bet that most guys still think first and foremost of Sweeney for the work he did alongside the man he’d be replacing, in “Eight Men Out.” The ladies, however, tend to think of him…and still swoon over him…in conjunction with a different sport: hockey. Indeed, I am assured that any woman whose heart doesn’t go pitter-pat at the mere thought of “The Cutting Edge” should officially consider themselves to be a disgrace to their gender. Sweeney’s never really gotten a fair shake on television – none of the shows on which he’s been a full-fledged regular (“Strange Luck,” “C-16: FBI,” “Harsh Realm,” and “Life as We Know It”) have survived beyond their first season – but given that he’s capable of playing the bad boy and getting both girls and laughs, he strikes us as a highly viable candidate.

Seann William Scott

Why he’d be a perfect fit: Do we really need to spell it out for you? Scott may not be thrilled that he’s gotten more than a little bit typecast as his “American Pie” character, but a Stifler-esque type is exactly what “Two and a Half Men” needs to fill the vacuum that would be left by Charlie Sheen’s departure. Given Scott’s decreasing returns on the big screen in recent years, we’re a little surprised he hasn’t shown up in a sitcom yet, anyway, but this would be a perfect opportunity to revive his declining star power by playing up the comedic attributes that made him hot in the first place.

Matthew McConaughey

Why he’d be a perfect fit: What, you mean besides the fact that the female demos for “Two and a Half Men” would shoot into the stratosphere? I don’t think anyone will deny that McConaughey is still a proven box-office draw when he’s playing against an equally pretty leading lady in a vapid romantic comedy, but the last time he tried to step outside that mold, we got “Surfer, Dude,” a film which might as well have gone straight to video, given how few theaters cared enough to screen it. Not that the movie jobs aren’t continuing to roll in, anyway, but we know how badly McConaughey wants to make “The Grackle,” a film which he describes variously as “the funniest script I’ve ever, ever read,” “a game-breaker,” and “a rule-changing role and movie.” Taking a high-profile sitcom gig would help raise his stock in Hollywood and might well put him in the position to finally make “The Grackle” come to fruition.

John C. McGinley

Why he’d be a perfect fit: Although McGinley might not immediately come to mind when considering someone to step into Sheen’s shoes, the actors have actually shared the screen before, albeit in a slightly more dramatic capacity. (After all those years of seeing him as Dr. Cox, you’re forgiven if you’d forgotten that McGinley was in both “Platoon” and “Wall Street.”) Admittedly, we wouldn’t be surprised if he wasn’t interested in taking on another sitcom gig so soon after wrapping “Scrubs,” especially if he has any desire whatsoever to make a significant play for more feature-film work, but he was so darned good at berating Zach Braff that we’d be lying if we didn’t admit to being kind of excited at the thought of pitting him against Cryer and Jones.

Joe Rogan

Why he’d be a perfect fit: Although he was seen by far more eyes as the host of “Fear Factor” than he ever was as a cast member of the late, great “NewsRadio,” the latter gig demonstrated how well Rogan could work in an ensemble-comedy setting. In recent years, he’s been splitting his time between stand-up, podcasting, and – oddly enough – serving as the UFC’s go-to interviewer, but we think the time could be right for Rogan to return to the sitcom world.

Michael Madsen

Why he’d be a perfect fit: Not to undercut anyone else’s reputation, but given that IMDb would have us believe that Madsen currently has twenty goddamned film projects in various stages of production (along with another two on which he’s merely rumored), with James Brown no longer with us, we have no qualms about declaring him to be The Hardest Working Man in Show Business. Isn’t it about time the guy got a chance to sit back and relax – relatively speaking – with a sitcom gig? He cuts a figure that’s the complete antithesis of Cryer’s character, and although he doesn’t necessarily have a longstanding history in comedy, the man knows his way around a deadpan remark. Plus, you know you want to see him go head-to-head with Holland Taylor and Conchata Ferrell…

Bronson Pinchot

Why he’d be a perfect fit: As recently as six months ago, this would’ve seemed like a completely left-field suggestion (and we’re willing to concede that you may still consider it one), but damned if Pinchot hasn’t turned up on Monday nights on two different occasions this season, first on “Chuck,” then on “Hawaii Five-0.” To our way of thinking, the time couldn’t be more right for him to have a career renaissance. I mean, the dude was kicking some serious comedy ass in the late ’80s, what with stealing scenes from Eddie Murphy in “Beverly Hills Cop” and picking up an Emmy nod for his work as Balki Bartokomous on “Perfect Strangers,” but aside from a nice – if small – role in “True Romance,” the ’90s weren’t over kind to him, and although the ’00s gave him a few nice guest roles, his only regular TV role during the decade involved spending a season on “The Surreal Life.” After an experience like that, surely anyone would have earned a chance to step out of the limelight and into a proper spotlight. Pinchot’s been playing more dramatic roles in recent years, and successfully at that, but we miss seeing him get the chance to be funny. This could be that chance. (Hey, if nothing else, give us some credit for thinking outside the box, huh?)

Andrew McCarthy

Why he’d be a perfect fit: Um…because this photo proves that he can cut down on the show’s outrageous bowling-shirt budget by bringing his own wardrobe to the table?

Oh, okay, we admit it: this is the least serious suggestion we’re bringing to the table, but, seriously, how awesome would it be to see McCarthy and Cryer together again? ‘Cause, like, what if there was an episode where they ended up vying for the same girl’s affections? And then on the same episode, McCarthy’s character had a complete douche of a best friend who came to visit?

Can you smell the pink and pretty concoction that Bullz-Eye’s cooking up…? If so, please make sure that the scent wafts its way over to CBS, because even if they blow the show’s entire guest-star budget for the 2011 – 2012 season to bring in Molly Ringwald and James Spader, I’m telling you, this is Sweeps Week magic just waiting to happen.

Here endeth Bullz-Eye’s list of suggestions for possible Charlie Sheen replacements…but rather than simply throwing a list of names into Chuck Lorre’s lap and saying, “Okay, now you guys go do the heavy lifting,” we’d like to close the proceedings by letting our resident “Two and a Half Men” fan, Ross Ruediger, offer up a few fully-formed (well, mostly, anyway) ideas for how the series can move forward without stepping outside the show’s existing cast of characters…which, come to think of it, is probably what actual devotees would prefer, anyway.

A Modest Proposal

by Ross Ruediger

Given the sheer amount of time that Jon Cryer has put into “Two and a Half Men,” there’s really no question that he’s just as much of a lead as Charlie Sheen is on that show. Sure, Sheen gets the girls and gets to do all the fun shit, but not only has Cryer done his time, he’s actually won an Emmy while doing it.

Now, it’s Alan Harper’s turn to shine.

First, though, Alan needs to be bumped up. At the beginning of next season, Chuck Lorre needs to indicate right up front that some horrible fate has befallen Charlie Harper. Something like…I don’t know, he was having sex with a circus performer and an elephant sat on him. Something ridiculous that gets the job done and cleans the slate.

Then, we find out that Charlie left all of his money to Alan. So, great, now Alan is sitting where Charlie was, financially speaking, and it’s easy enough to imagine that having all of that money would start to change Alan as a person.

But how do you get someone else to move into the house?

Let’s talk internal promotion. Personally, I really like the character of Herb, played by Ryan Stiles. At the moment, he’s married to Judith, Alan’s ex-wife, but…what if something happened to cause Herb and Judith to split? And then Alan, sympathetic to Herb’s plight, invites Herb to move in?

There you go: Alan is the new Charlie, and Herb is the new Alan.

Or…what if Jake was the new Charlie? Picture it: Charlie bypasses Alan in the will in favor of Jake, who decides to invites a slacker friend…Eldridge, maybe?…to move in, leaving Alan to suckle from the financial teat of his own dimwitted son, thereby arguably replacing Jake as the show’s Half Man. Yes, it’s much crueler, but it’s a premise ripe with reinvigoration for the show and loaded with comic potential.

“Two and a Half Men” gets a lot of shit, and, okay, so it’s not the best show in the world, but it’s still funny, and God knows it’s popular. Still, we’ve all seen that Charlie Sheen has aged quite visibly this season, and it’s probably no coincidence that the character of Charlie Harper has been going downhill, too. I feel like it could really give the show a jolt of energy if Chuck Lorre and the writers just said, “Fuck it, we’re moving on. Charlie’s gone, someone else has got his money…now let’s see what happens.”


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