In the back of my mind I knew this was going to happen, I just didn’t want to believe it. I knew subconsciously that Two and a Half Men would eventually become the show that I avoided for so many years when Charlie Sheen was its star.
The episode title told me all I needed to know about this episode: “The Squat and the Hover.” When they are putting bathroom references in the title you know things are going bad. The title refers to a random line from a guest star of no importance whatsoever, continuing the show’s trend toward random episode titles. I’m aware episode titles don’t matter but why bother naming episodes at all if they don’t matter?
We open with a naked Walden (Ashton Kutcher) joining Alan (Jon Cryer) and Jake (Angus T. Jones) on the couch while they’re watching TV. Walden naked is apparently a joke that either Ashton Kutcher or the writers have fallen in love with as Kutcher naked was the punch line of the premiere episode as well.
While naked, Walden finds his divorce papers in a stack of mail that keeps the scene TV friendly. Walden’s divorce will be finalized as soon as he signs these papers, ending the most significant relationship in his young life. Naturally, Walden is inconsolable.
How a story about Walden coming to terms with the end of his marriage ends with Walden and Alan pretending to be a gay couple in order to pick up on a lesbian couple at a bar is something that only the writers of Two and a Half Men could possibly attempt to explain.
More important is how terribly unfunny all of this is. Everything from naked Walden to Walden and Alan as a couple is a major creative fail. Not even Alan’s reliable self-aware-self-loathing can wring a laugh out of this convoluted and dull plot. Did you know that ‘Dani,’ the lesbian Walden was attracted to was played by Judy Greer who also plays Walden’s ex-wife? It took an IMDB search for me to get that information which indicates that the association of the two was a failure.
Jane Lynch returned to Two and a Half Men in “The Squat and the Hover.” Fans know that Lynch played Charlie Harper’s therapist on the show before she moved on to Glee. Now, she’s treating Walden, at the behest of a pesky Alan, after Walden angrily burned his love letters and mementos from his marriage and then, much to Alan’s dismay, talked about moving away.
The therapy session picked up on the same idea that proved to be an anchor dragging down fellow CBS Monday sitcom How I Met Your Mother, a character realizing their lover is a lot like their mother. To the credit of the Two and a Half Men writers, Walden’s realization that his wife was a lot like his mother wasn’t merely revealed and dismissed, Walden will continues seeing his shrink over this revelation whereas Mother pretended that all was well in the end with no lingering emotional or psychological effects.
As happy as I was to see the wonderful Jane Lynch, her scene with Ashton Kutcher wasn’t funny. Just as Two and a Half Men briefly recalled How I Met Your Mother, it also recalled the lame and dated writing on that other CBS Monday night sitcom, 2 Broke Girls.
The therapy scene used that lame old sitcom trope the ‘No’ joke. Here, Walden is discussing his childhood when he tells of his father disappearing:
Dr. Freeman: “Your father abandoned you and your mother?”
Walden: “No, he actually disappeared, he was an amateur magician and that was his signature trick.”
If this joke had joints they would creak with old age and over-use. It’s fair to say that there isn’t much new under the sun when it comes to sitcom writing but settling for hackery like this is sad.
Really, all of “The Squat and the Hover” was pretty bad and it portended a number of bad trends for the show. Most notably, six episodes in and Walden continues not to register any growth as a character. Kutcher is still playing Walden as a slightly less manic version of Kelso, who may be the real shadow over Two and a Half Men and not the legacy of Charlie Sheen. Kutcher hasn’t brought anything new or exciting to this character.
Worse yet, what began as a one off joke in the first episode has lingered to become disturbing. I’m talking about Ashton Kutcher’s ego stroking. At first, it was funny when Alan and Berta pointed out how good looking Walden is and, because they’d seen him naked so often, how large his penis is.
Now, however, the meme about how great looking and well hung Walden is have lingered and it’s becoming uncomfortable. Every week has seen some reference to how great Walden is and rather than puncture this built up balloon of ego, the show merely plays to it and it leads you to wonder if being loved up on a weekly basis is why Kutcher took this job.
I get that this is the guy that saved the Two and a Half Men golden goose but enough with the ego-stroking. Ashton/Walden is a good looking guy, your point is made, now make him do something funny.
- Was the penis pump really necessary? Was there anyone who thought that was going to be funny?
- Have the producers cut the budget on Two and Half Men so much that Berta and Jake can’t be on the same episode or in the same scene? Berta disappeared this week, Jake disappeared last week and Holland Taylor is, apparently, off with Charlie Sheen somewhere based on the amount of screen time she’s had since the pilot.
- It’s fine that Two and a Half Men went out and signed Joe Manganiello from True Blood for a cameo but would it have killed the writers to write the guy something funny? There had to have been one chuckle-worthy Vampire joke in the writer’s room that they could have tossed in.
- I’m starting to understand why people miss Charlie Sheen so much.