The Complete Third Season
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All photos © Warner Bros.
Reviewed by Jason Thompson
t should come as no surprise that “Two and a Half Men” is one of those “comfortable” TV comedies. That is, once it established its great first season, it didn’t really have to mess with its successful formula to keep viewers laughing, and the critics more or less satisfied. Sure, the show has had its share of detractors, labeling it as “juvenile” and “misogynistic,” but so be it. I’ve never been sure where all these people are actually coming from, given the state of TV comedies over the last 30 years. Far “worse” shows have come and gone, with some being equally or even more successful as this one. But we’ll leave those questions to the sociologists.
The bottom line is, if you’re a fan of this show and enjoyed the first two seasons, there’s no reason not to snap up this one as well. Granted, the “new car smell” has worn off a bit, but the laughs are still there, with Charlie Sheen still at the top of his womanizing game as Charlie and Jon Cryer forever desperately trying to temper his brother’s salacious ways as the endearing Alan. Many great comedies have worked simply through the straight guy and comedian formula, and this show walks a similar line. Angus T. Jones plays Alan’s son Jake. The poor kid is going through his adolescent years with an uncle like Charlie and a dad like Alan, so there is plenty of uncomfortable comedy to be mined, and it is handled expertly by both the writers and the cast.
Nowhere is that uncomfortable comedy brought out better than in the episode entitled “Just Once with Aunt Sophie,” in which Jake is preparing to go to his first coed party. Naturally, Charlie and Alan start reminiscing about their first such experience – with quite different results, naturally – and both decide to give Jake advice that of course makes the entire experience a hilarious disaster. The wince level is also heightened in the terrific “Madame and Her Special Friend,” in which Alan finds himself the object of desire of Norma, a senior citizen whose hormones seem to be in overdrive.
Charlie’s real-life dad Martin Sheen makes a came appearance in “Sleep Tight, Puddin’ Pop” where Charlie drunkenly sleeps with stalker neighbor Rose and soon finds himself at odds with her father (Martin Sheen), who wants to know what Charlie intends to do with his daughter. No sooner does this start to wreak havoc on Charlie’s mind when Martin meets Charlie and Alan’s mother Evelyn (Holland Taylor), and falls for her, prompting him to move in. It’s the kind of whacked-out scenario that the writers on this show excel at. However, the damper in this series may be Charlie meeting up with Mia, a ballet teacher who likes Charlie but doesn’t fall for him like every other woman does, making him wait for sex. Charlie complies, and the episodes in which the two are working out their relationships are funny, but they’re not the cream of the crop by far. Eventually, the season closes with Charlie and Mia getting ready to wed.
In all, though, the third season of “Two and a Half Men” is a sure winner, and keeps the laughs coming nearly effortlessly. The fact that the damn thing is still going as strong as ever, even now, is a real rarity for a prime time comedy these days. The writing is near-perfect and there is a wonderful chemistry among the cast. While it’s not quite as well-oiled as the first season or two, this set nonetheless makes for great watching, with plenty of episodes well worth rewatching. Chalk up another winner for Sheen and company.
Special Features: Not a whole lot this time around, unfortunately. But then again, with shows like this you’re pretty much getting the DVD sets to watch the main attraction. Still, there is a gag reel here that’s entertaining enough.