Two sitcoms are forced to make changes at the top, and not for the better
Ashton Kutcher, replacing Charlie "Scorched Earth" Sheen on CBS's Two and a Half Men, is doing possibly the best work of his career. Only it's under the wrong circumstances. He's Walden Schmidt, a new-tech zillionaire who's both a romantic (he pines over the breakup of his marriage) and an erotic pagan (he prances around naked as if he were in the forest with a panpipe). Kutcher plays the part with charming, man-child fecklessness. He's the closest thing here to a real human, which means he's in the wrong Malibu bachelor pad. This is a well-constructed, old-school sex farce. Sheen, with the edge of a rusting razor, was right at home with the rancid-playboy humor. So is the expert Jon Cryer, who now dominates as wormy, woman-hungry Alan Harper. Like it or not, he's the man. Things are also problematic at NBC's The Office. With Steve Carell gone, Ed Helms, as Andy Bernard, has moved up to manager. His fallback shtick is beet-red, self-conscious embarrassment-but shouldn't whoever runs the place be oblivious to his own incompetence? James Spader, as the cryptic new CEO, is better. Everything he says sounds like a parable intended for stupid children. That's how to manage Dunder Mifflin.
TWO AND A HALF MEN:
Hell on Wheels
AMC, Nov. 6, 10 p.m. ET/PT |
Cynical, tough and bloody, this vivid new western fits perfectly in the AMC lineup, which seems to have been created by people who have never known a single happy day. The Civil War is over, and construction on the Union Pacific Railroad lags, in part due to the shenanigans of corrupt boss "Doc" Durant (Colm Meaney). He puts his crew under the charge of ex-Confederate soldier Cullen Bohannon (Anson Mount, looking like Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood). Amid the clang of iron and stone, he's on a secret mission of destruction, hunting down his wife's killers. This drive for revenge is what makes the plot spark, smoke and go chug-a-chug-chug.
YOU'VE GOTTA SEE THIS ...
Modern Family's Sarah Hyland is an obnoxiously popular girl who's brought down to earth. Cute, in a Clueless way. Disney, Nov. 11.
THE REAL HOUSEWIVES OF ATLANTA
Season 4's premiere climaxes with NeNe and Sheree in a screaming match. And all is right with the world. Bravo, Nov. 6.
Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley-who's nominated in five categories-host one of country music's biggest, splashiest nights. ABC, Nov. 9.
EIGHT ISN'T ENOUGH
HOW DO YOU KEEP IT FRESH AFTER EIGHT SEASONS?
I'm still fazed by real-life crime; it's a dark world.
HAS THE ROLE CHANGED YOU?
I once chased down this guy on the freeway after he hit me, just like I was in a cop car. It was instinct, but I caught him!
WHAT'S NEXT FOR YOUR ROCK GROUP THE LT. DAN BAND?
We're playing in Las Vegas Nov. 12, Veterans Day weekend, to benefit Wounded Warrior Project and the Gary Sinise Foundation. It makes a difference when people show they care for our military.