Charlie Sheen Returns to TV.. Still Not Funny
Let me preface this by saying I'm a fan of Charlie Sheen's early film work, but have never watched a full episode of Two and a Half Men. Sure I've seen bits and pieces occasionally, people always tried to get me to watch it, but there was nothing appealing about the show, and it was a CBS comedy so how funny could it really be?
Anyway, Thursday marked the premiere of Sheen's return to television in Anger Management which is allegedly based on the Adam Sandler and Jack Nicholson movie of the same name. And when I say based on, I mean they have the same title. I tried to go into this with an open mind, and even had the assistance of Guinness to help me, but I knew I was in trouble about 23 seconds into the first episode when I heard the word anger for the 126th time. It was then when I remembered why I don't watch network sitcoms. Anger Management is a as cookie cutter of a sitcom as you are going to see, and in no way, shape, or form takes advantage of its platform and network as say, Louie, Wilfred, It's Always Sunny, etc. It made me believe that the team behind this project clearly wants to be on one of the big four, and threw out the kind of tasteless fare that is perfectly suited for a Monday night 10pm est CBS slot.
Let's break this down. There is absolutely no chemistry between any of the characters, but it's hard to develop that when your scenes are about 15-20 seconds long. I think there were 24 characters introduced in the first 5 minutes of the first show, and everyone got to throw out an awful joke that the live studio audience pretended to laugh at. Is that what popular shows are doing these days? Bad joke, bad joke, cut scene, bad joke, bad joke, minority friend enters the room, bad joke, faux-saucy comment, commercial break. In all honesty I have to admit, in the two episodes, I did chuckle twice though. But back to the characters, lightning round style. Shawnee Smith plays Charlie's ex-wife. She's still good to look at, but unbearable when she opens her mouth. Selma Blair plays Charlie's friend with benefits and does so with the sexuality of whatever doctor's give you to relieve an erection lasting longer than 4 hours. Brett Butler plays the surly bartender. Didn't get any funny lines, but at least she's still alive, good for her. Brian Austin Green made a cameo as Charlie's ex-wife's new boyfriend and extremely successful club promoter with an interest in statistics. Who then gets dumped. Pointless character number 1. The therapy members were all either over-actors or not memorable, except for Noureen DeWulf's body. God is she an awful actor. There's the black friend played by Michael Boatman. But not too black, can't scare the audiences and sponsors away. Charlie's daughter is played by Daniella Bobadilla. Again, someone who really contributed nothing. There was one gag that I did chuckle at concerning two black inmates with their pitching and catching roles blatantly defined that involved prison rape and black rage. Good stuff. Basically, there are a ton of boring characters, with boring plot lines, awful dialogue, absolutely zero chemistry, and physically painful to sit through. It's bound to be a success. The numbers may not be great on FX, but it will definitely have a following, it is just the safe blandness that America eats up.
So what does it all mean? The show sucks. I stopped my DVR twice to gather myself to make it through. I give it 2 out of 5 stars because it is possible that they could figure out a plan and turn this thing around but I think it's too late. If they would have had the balls to make Charlie an a-hole and gone the edgy route I think this could have been a wickedly fun show. Instead, you have a family man with alleged anger issues which make him as frightening as Jack McBrayer on 30 Rock. If you enjoyed it, godspeed and I hope it continues to bring you joy. I personally have no desire to watch another episode.