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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Two and a Half Men: The Complete Fifth Season
Two and a Half Men: The Complete Fifth Season
Warner Bros. // Unrated // May 12, 2009
List Price: $44.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Michael Zupan | posted May 11, 2009 | E-mail the Author
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Highly Recommended
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It's quite an accomplishment when a sitcom is able to survive the test of longevity, especially when the premise of a show is borderline insulting in its simplicity. You would think after five seasons of churning out the same kind of jokes that the formula would grow stale. However, Two and a Half Men continues to stand as a testament that a product doesn't need to be complicated in order to work, as it continues to deliver just as many laughs during its fifth season as it did in its first.

Charlie Harper is laid back and cool, living life without a care in the world. He's got a small fortune from writing commercial jingles, a house on the beach, a maid, a revolving door of gorgeous young women in his bedroom, and a liver that's seemingly impermeable to the damaging effects of alcohol. His brother Alan however, is Charlie's exact polar opposite. He's a hard working chiropractor, has his son Jake to look out for, is incredibly uptight and hates his brother's 'live in the moment' lifestyle. Alan also prefers long term relationships despite the fact that they usually end up in divorce. Courtesy of some hefty alimony payments, Alan was forced to decide between living with his insufferable mother or his brother Charlie. Unfortunately for Charlie's lifestyle, Alan chose the latter.

And that's really all there is to the premise of the show. With the inclusion of Alan's son Jake to the mix, Two and a Half Men basically plays out as a modern day version of The Odd Couple plus one. Even though it's a concept that's been done to death ever since the dawn of sitcom, the extreme contrast between Charlie and Alan plays out much better than one would initially expect. The fifth season opens a whole new world of refreshingly snappy one liners between the brothers as Charlie begins seeing matured women, as opposed to the young college meat he normally keeps under the sheets.



What also helps the brothers dynamic this season is Alan's son, Jake. This character has been used as a tool to bring a little more depth and variety to the situations the guys can get into, and although this aspect of the show hasn't changed that much, the changes depicted in Jake's life ensures the episodic storylines continue to stay fresh. This season we see Jake start junior high, and it brings on all the adolescent phases that comes with it. He starts dating, sneaking out of the house, and begins to cling to Charlie a little more since he's the cool uncle that won't father him to death.

Although these central points from season five are adequate enough to keep the show feeling fresh, a most noteworthy episode named Fish in a Drawer is a huge highlight. The episode is part of an 'episode swap', as the writers of CSI and Two and a Half Men switched writing duties for a week. The CSI writers have designed this particular episode to be a spoof of their very own series, and focuses on investigating a death that occurs in Charlie's home during his mother's wedding reception. Can you imagine the kind of jokes that could be conjured up using crime scene equipment in Charlie's bedroom?



Two and a Half Men's game has also stepped up with the inclusion of numerous guest stars, such as Jenny McCarthy, Janeane Garofalo, Ryan Styles, Robert Wagner and more. Fan favorite characters such as Berta, Evelyn Harper and Charlie's stalker Rose, are all still here and utilized to a smarter extent than I've seen them used before. Couple the impressive highlights season five has on display with the impressive amount of chemistry between Cryer and Sheen, as well as some incredibly tight writing that ensures the basic premise and sexual innuendos stay fresh week after week, and it's easy to see why Two and a Half Men is still going strong.


Video


This show is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, and the transfer that's been provided is pretty nice. Color levels show an impressive level of saturation, while skin tones consistently remain accurate. The contrast ratio is pretty impressive, be it during day or night sequences. The blacks never look murky, although whites can tend to shine just a hair brighter than they should. There are some compression issues, although nothing major. The artifacts that can be seen are minimal and provide a quality to the picture that isn't unlike grain. This was something that was able to be seen in all previous Two and a Half Men season sets, although a small increase in the sharpness this time around makes them stand out a little more, as well as bring out some edge enhancement every now and again. Other than that, this is a pretty nice transfer overall.


Audio


Since the show has taken a modern approach throughout its run by airing in high definition, it's a shame to see the show is only sporting a Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo track. It sounds perfectly acceptable though, as dialogue is always crisp and clean, and the show never really uses any outstanding sound effects or vibrant enough music to warrant anything more. There's not going to be anybody in all likelihood that's going to find any reason to complain about what's offered, it's just something that I had to point out.


Extras




I never really comment about the packaging unless there's something special about it, but the packaging format seems to have changed for the show. Instead of a cardboard foldout style as fans of the show are used to, all three discs are housed inside of clear keepcase along with the usual booklet. I really appreciate the more slender package this time around, and it's not going to look weird on my shelf as it still has a cardboard sleeve that's similar to what other seasons were housed in. The extras included on the discs are:

Two and a Half Men at 100 - 23 Emmy nominations throughout its first five seasons, Two and a Half Men also reached its one hundredth episode this season. At just over five minutes in length, this featurette shows some behind the scenes footage of the cast and crew party that happened on set for this momentous occasion.



The Lore of Chuck Lorre: Must Pause TV - There are some vanity cards at the end of every end-credit roll, and if you're unfamiliar with such a thing, it's a card that really has nothing to do with the show. It's a bunch of gibberish or something of the like, and is really only there for someone's amusement. This is just an explanation of the vanity cards from Chuck himself, as well as some examples of what's appeared at the end of certain shows throughout the series.

Two and a Half Men - Dying is Easy, Comedy is Hard - This is a little over ten minutes in length, and this feature is of great interest as it chronicles the experience of swapping episode duties with the good people of CSI.

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation - Two and a Half Deaths - Probably the most interesting bonus we can expect for a television series on DVD, the crossover episode the guys of Two and a Half Men did for CSI is also available. Katy Segal is one of the central characters in this episode. She plays an actress (who is married to a man named Bud, an obvious tip of the hat to her Married With Children days) who is found dead with a rubber chicken down her throat. The rest of the episode plays out like any normal episode of CSI would. It's cleverly written, using much more subtle humor than one would expect Lorre and Co. to be able to pull off. There's even a cameo of the main cast members of Two and a Half Men here, as well as Dana Devon from Extra playing as herself. This is a bonus feature you don't want to miss, especially if you're a fan of both shows!



The bonus features aren't great in number, and they're really not incredibly interesting. The refreshing look at the crossover experience, as well as the episode the writing team of Two and a Half Men put together for CSI, more than make up for it.


Overall




Two and a Half Men is just as good as it ever was. The simplistic formula the show is founded on hasn't changed much, but then again, it doesn't need to. The talented writers understand that as long as the characters continue to evolve, the show will too. Despite the fact things are changing for the main characters this season, the storyline never gets complicated enough to keep newcomers from jumping right in to the series. The show remains accessible at any point for people who are curiously flipping the channels at home, just hoping to catch something worth their time. This is undoubtedly another reason why Two and a Half Men has continued to gain a vast amount of ratings, eventually enabling the show to reach its one hundredth episode in its fifth season. Of course, the real star of this particular season is the wildly hilarious CSI crossover episode. It's for these reasons and so many more that I feel comfortable highly recommending this release. If you haven't had an opportunity to get into the show as of yet, now is just as good a time as any!
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