By Chaz Lipp
There are great TV sitcoms and there are terrible TV sitcoms. Somewhere smack dab in the middle lies another category, one in which reliably funny but not particularly brilliant sitcoms can comfortably exist. Two and a Half Men is one of those shows. Not all of any given episode’s jokes hit their target, but enough of them are chuckle-worthy (with quite a few being considerably more than that) to make the show consistently amusing. The Complete Twelfth and Final Season is now on DVD via Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, making all 16 episodes available on two discs.
No, Charlie Sheen doesn’t make an appearance – not even during the two-part finale “Of Course He’s Dead.” There is, however, some fun ambiguity built into the season about whether his character, Charlie Harper is truly deceased. There are also some fun, big-name cameo appearances (which are better left unspoiled, if at all possible). Ashton Kutcher is, of course, on board for his fourth season after Sheen’s worldwide headline-making departure from the series. Kutcher manages to add a touch a depth to his portrayal of internet billionaire Walden Schmidt. Walden, at the tender age of 35, suffers a mild heart attack (during the season premiere, “The Ol’ Mexican Spinach”). The experience changes him fundamentally and he decides to adopt a child.
He’s told that single men, however qualified they may be, are among the least successful when adopting children. So he winds up proposing to his best friend and roommate, series’ mainstay Alan Harper (Jon Cryer). While probably ultimately not in the very best taste, what could’ve easily devolved into endless gay stereotype-based humor is actually treated with a modicum of respect and sensibility. Neither Alan nor Walden are gay. In a way, series creator Chuck Lorre seems to be suggesting that marriage can and should exist for any two people who consider themselves close enough to co-exist. That admittedly may still turn off a certain number of viewers, but it’s all handled with good humor. Alan and Walden follow through with the marriage and (after failing to find an infant to adopt) become parents to adolescent Louis (Edan Alexander).
The jokes, as always with this series, are very much hit-or-miss. Sometimes it seems the writers are batting well under .500 when it comes to zingers. But the game cast, especially the well-practiced Cryer and Conchata Ferrell as Berta the housekeeper, manage to make it work. TV vet Maggie Lawson (set to co-star in the upcoming CBS series Angel from Hell) is an excellent addition to the cast as the social worker and adoption specialist Ms. McMartin. The presence of young Edan Alexander, quite unaffected and likeable in the role of the “cute kid” Louis, helps re-establish the “and a half” portion of the show’s title, now that Jake (Angus T. Jones) is a young adult in the military – not to mention no longer part of the show. Simply put, if you’re a fan of the show then you need this new set.
Somewhat oddly, given that this is the final season of a long-running and very popular show, the only special feature included on the set is a gag reel.