"Two and a Half Men" has never demonstrated itself as a particularly original series over its now 5 season run, but the series has managed to be not only successful, but delightfully entertaining thanks to quality writing and acting. The series has managed to not only be terribly funny, but there's a consistency that's pretty remarkable in this day and age - it's really one of the most reliable sitcoms on TV (or, should I say, left on TV.)
The series stars Charlie Sheen as Charlie, a bachelor (read: womanizer) who has managed to make a fortune via jingle writing - enough to net him a beautiful house in Los Angeles. Bachelorhood is interrupted early in the series by the arrival of his brother, Alan (Jon Cryer) and his son, Jake (Angus Jones), who are both looking for a place to stay after Alan's ex-wife, Judith (Marin Hinkle) took a great deal after their divorce - including the house.
The series also benefitted from its supporting players, such as Conchata Ferrell as no-nonsense housekeeper Berta and the wonderful Holland Taylor as Charlie and Alan's cold mother, who Charlie describes as the devil. Melanie Lynskey, who left the show and came back, is also perfect as the neighbor obsessed with Charlie. There's a certain way that Lorre plays the characters off one another that gives the show a certain charm - the characters spend much of the time irritated with one another, but underneath the one-liners there's a sense that they do care about one another.
The casting of the nervous Cryer against the laid-back Sheen was also a terrific choice, as the two opposites play off each other perfectly. Jones is also wonderful as Alan's underachieving, somewhat dim - although the character seems increasingly dimmer and lazier as the series goes on and he gets older - son.
The third season of the series delivers some of the show's best episodes, including a couple of solid episodes that offer great guest star roles for Martin Sheen (in "Sleep Tight, Puddin' Pop", as Charlie's obsessed neighbor Rose's father) and Jon Lovitz (as Charlie's competition in the jingle field in "The Unfortunate Little Schnauser".) Other highlights include: "Santa's Village of the Damned" (Alan and Charlie eat well thanks to Alan's girlfriend, who reveals a darker side when Charlie moves the Christmas decor she put up) and "The Voodoo that I Do Do", where Charlie makes Jake take ballet so he can have an excuse to talk to the teacher. It's a funny episode, but the last laugh in the episode ends it perfectly.
49. 3- 1 19 Sep 05 Weekend in Bangkok with Two Olympic Gymnasts
- With Alan ailing, Charlie plays dad to Jake and gets a lesson in parenting.
50. 3- 2 26 Sep 05 Principal Gallagher's Lesbian Lover
- Charlie mis-manages Alan's office the morning after a wild night.
51. 3- 3 3 Oct 05 Carpet Burns and a Bite Mark
- When Charlie discovers that Alan's new flame is his ex-wife, Charlie tries to break things up.
52. 3- 4 10 Oct 05 Your Dismissive Attitude Toward Boobs
- Berta moves in and, shortly after, Alan decides to move out.
53. 3- 5 17 Oct 05 We Called It Mr. Pinky
- Charlie's problems with women may be related to his problems with his mother.
54. 3- 6 24 Oct 05 Hi, Mr. Horned One
- Isabella, Charlie's latest girlfriend, puts a curse on Alan.
55. 3- 7 7 Nov 05 Sleep Tight, Puddin' Pop
- Charlie sleeps with Rose, then gets a surprise when her father wants to know his intentions.
56. 3- 8 14 Nov 05 That Voodoo That I Do Do
- Charlie's interest in Jake taking ballet and everything to do with the teacher.
57. 3- 9 21 Nov 05 Madame and Her Special Friend
- A senior has the hots for Alan.
58. 3-10 28 Nov 05 Something Salted and Twisted
- Alan vows to stop seeking the approval of women.
59. 3-11 19 Dec 05 Santa's Village of the Damned
- Alan's domestic godess girlfriend makes the holidays miserable.
60. 3-12 9 Jan 06 That Special Tug
- Alan's emotional meltdown drives Charlie to a therapist.
61. 3-13 23 Jan 06 Humiliation is a Visual Medium
- Charlie and Mia have been dating for a while...with no sex.
62. 3-14 6 Feb 06 Love Isn't Blind, It's Retarded
- When Mia insists Charlie dump Kandi, Alan's there for her to rebound to.
63. 3-15 27 Feb 06 My Tongue is Meat
- Mia's health-concious lifestyle - no beer, no burgers - interfere's with Charlie's routine.
64. 3-16 6 Mar 06 Ergo, The Booty Call
- With Jake's birthday coming up, Alan can't face having his ex meet his much, much younger girlfriend.
65. 3-17 13 Mar 06 The Unfortunate Little Schnauser
- When Charlie's arch rival is nominated for an ad award, he's sure that he'll lose again.
66. 3-18 20 Mar 06 The Spit-Covered Cobbler
- Alan discovers that having a young, financially-strapped girlfriend can be financially strapping.
67. 3-19 10 Apr 06 Golly Moses, She's A Muffin
- Charlie doesn't notice that Alan's girlfriend has been living with them for three weeks.
68. 3-20 24 Apr 06 Always a Bridesmaid, Never a Burro
- Khandi+ Alan. Mandi + Charlie. Andy + Judith = romantic chaos.
69. 3-21 1 May 06 And the Plot Moistens
- Charlie helps his nephew prepare for the school musical.
70. 3-22 8 May 06 Just Once With Aunt Sophie
- Alan and Charlie have advice for Jake before his first boy-girl party.
71. 3-23 15 May 06 Arguments for the Quickie
- When Charlie sees Mia again, she asks for a donation of the non-monetary kind.
72. 3-24 22 May 06 That Pistol-Packin' Hermaphrodite
- Charlie and Mia prepare for their wedding.
VIDEO: "Two and a Half Men" is presented by Warner Brothers in 1.33:1 full-frame. Picture quality can seem rather inconsistent, but even the lesser moments still look very good for a TV show. Sharpness and detail were often a bit better than basic broadcast quality, but the picture could look softer at times. Mild noise was also visible in some scenes, as well. No edge enhancement was seen, nor were any instances of wear spotted. Colors looked bright and well-saturated, with no smearing or other faults. At worst, the picture looks around broadcast quality, but it often stayed a bit above that level.
SOUND: The show is offered with a stereo soundtrack that offers a fairly basic presentation, but good audio quality.
EXTRAS: Unfortunately, we get nothing but a gag reel.
Final Thoughts: "Two and a Half Men" remains one of the best sitcoms left on network TV, with excellent writing and a superb ensemble cast. The third season offers plenty of terrific episodes, as well. The DVD set does boast good audio/video quality, but very little in the way of extras. Still, recommended on the strength of the show.