I may have been a fan of Two and a Half Men since the very first episode, but that doesn't mean I'm going to let my judgment dwell on the faded line of when the same ole' shtick finally begins to grow tiresome. Although the seventh season of the show continues to offer clever writing, top notch acting from Jon Cryer, and a favorable enough twist to keep things somewhat interesting... the show is still pretty much the same. Although that's not exactly a bad thing, I can't in good conscience ignore the stale taste that each new episode has left in my mouth.
The writers seemingly understood that the show was really beginning to feel like the same conceptual joke over and over again, so they've made some minor plot tweaks to try and resuscitate the dead horse that's been beaten beyond recognition. Jake for example, is finally learning that life isn't all about video games, pizza, or even girls. The most notable difference this time around however, is the role swap between Charlie and Alan. Charlie has been a one-trick pony throughout the entirety of the series thus far - A womanizing alcoholic that doesn't really do much for a living except sit around his beachside house and verbally assault his brother on a daily basis. But now, Charlie is slowly getting closer to domesticated bliss than ever before (although he still has trouble maintaining a relationship), while Alan is finally getting the attention from the ladies he has desperately wanted for a very long time. The twists this season are certainly a welcome departure from the same ole' same ole', but they're not drastic enough to make the storyline seem much different from the six seasons that preceded it.
And you know what? I don't think the writers, myself, or perhaps the rest of the Two and a Half Men audience, are the only ones that seem to notice the ship is finally beginning to sink. To me, it just seems like Charlie Sheen doesn't care anymore. Sure, he's always had that 'breezing through my role' quality about him to some degree, and to be fair, this show certainly wouldn't be the same without him. That being said, there's something just a little off in his performance this time around, and although I can't quite pinpoint what that 'little' change is, it conveys to me a lack of motivation to the show to a disappointing degree. I don't exactly demand greatness from any character in a sitcom as long as they fit the final product week after week, but when it begins to feel like an actor isn't having fun with their role anymore, then I'm going to begin to lose interest as well. I know there are people out there that might want to point out rumors about Sheen's personal life to explain why his acting quality may have began to diminish this season, but in the end, I don't care about rumors and I certainly could care less about what these actors are going through in their personal lives. I know that sounds a little harsh, but I don't watch television to become invested in their real life drama. I'm here for one reason and one reason only, and that's to be entertained. The fact of the matter is that Jon Cryer is the only person on the show that's consistently delivering a noteworthy performance. Hell, to a certain extent, he's probably the reason why Two and a Half Men has stayed on the air this long.
That's not to say that this is a bad season of Two and a Half Men though... because it isn't. Sure, the writers seem to be afraid to alter the show's now formulaic paint-by-numbers plot, but the jokes woven throughout every episode are just as hysterically clever as they've ever been. But again, the show isn't offering anything fresh enough to stay relevant anymore, and all I feel like I've watched throughout the course of the seventh season is a bunch of reruns. As an admitted fan of the series since the very beginning, I've finally reached a point where I have to say, "I've lost interest." Even if the writers did try something a little different this time around, I most likely would be in the same boat that I'm in right now, except I'd be saying that, "It's too little, too late." Seven seasons is a long time for a show to keep everything so one dimensional, without forcing the characters to deal with situations that might actually change who they are on the inside. Considering that Two and a Half Men is still one of the most watched sitcoms on television, I'm sure I'm probably in the minority here, but if you're growing tired of the lack of substance on this show, now is just as good a time as any to jump ship.
This show is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, and considering the fact that Two and a Half Men has a really good video track record on DVD, the transfer here is unsurprisingly decent. Color levels saturate to an impressive degree (although they can bleed), and skin tones remain as accurate as they were during the show's initial broadcast. The contrast ratio is also noteworthy, be it during day or night sequences. The blacks never look murky, although whites can have a tendency to shine just a hair brighter than they should. There's some minor artifacting throughout, but that's really only due to the limitation of the format itself. All in all, there's nothing to complain about in regards to the compression of the encoding process. There's a very minor edge enhancement effect that can be seen due to a slight boost in sharpness, but all in all, this season of Two and a Half Men looks just as good as the seasons that came before it, and fans of the show shouldn't really find anything to complain about (unless they're used to seeing it solely in high definition as it airs on television).
Since the show has taken a modern approach throughout its run by airing in high definition, it's a shame to see this release is only sporting a Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo track. It sounds perfectly acceptable though, as dialogue is always crisp and clear, and the show never really uses any outstanding sound effects or vibrant enough music to warrant anything else. There's not going to be anyone in all likelihood that's going to complain about what's been offered here, but I felt it was something worth pointing out. All in all, fans of the show shouldn't be disappointed.
Unfortunately, the seventh season of Two and a Half Men doesn't really have a lot to offer in the way of supplemental material. The only real featurette we have is A Charlie Harper Ex-Reunion, where a bunch of Charlie's ex-girlfriends let air his dirty laundry out for everyone to see. The opinions are hilariously blunt, and it's entertaining to hear what they have to say for once. Other than that, the only other extra we're treated to is an equally funny Gag Reel. This unfortunately ends the supplemental package, which is a shame. Considering this is one of the most popular sitcoms around today, you would think the WB would make the season release sets a little more special than this... but, then again, I would have expected them to get around to releasing this on Blu-ray for the first time. After all, The Big Bang Theory had its third season released on the high-def format...
When is enough, enough? In the case of Two and a Half Men, the answer for me is, "On the seventh go round." The jokes are as funny as they've ever been, sure, but after already watching six seasons of the same one dimensional characters going back and forth, slinging sexual innuendos like they're going out of style, the shtick has finally lost its appeal. Other than that, I can't decide what's more troubling - The fact that the people that work behind the camera failed in breathing any new life into the show's stale formula, or that Charlie Sheen is beginning to show signs that even he couldn't care less about his time on the show anymore. For fans of the show who really aren't tired of seeing the same old routine yet, the seventh season is sure to please. For those of you who were wondering if the show was going to head into a bold new direction in order to keep things from getting tiresome, you should probably just rent this before committing to a blind buy.