Monday, December 3, 2012

ARE THE "TWO AND A HALF MEN" ACTORS REBELLING BECAUSE THEIR SHOW REFUSES TO EVOLVE? ANOTHER LOOK AT THE SHOW'S RESISTANCE TO CHANGE IN LIGHT OF ANGUS T. JONES'S RANT!



I came into this blog, thinking that I'd have something to say about Angus T. Jones's rant this past week on his show, "Two and a Half Men," where, during an interview for some Seventh-Day Adventist Cult, he called the show "filth," his character Jake, non-existant, and that he told people to "not watch his show." He later apologized half-heartedly for his remarks. Now that I've thought about it for a while, and started about three other drafts of this blog, it occurs to me that I really don't have much to say. Sure, even I'm a little amazed that any actor would, not only trash the TV show they're on, much less a successful show, that's basically made se person financially secure for the rest of their life, and what little I looked into this church that Jones's has apparently found religion in, I could certainly discuss that, but, frankly, there isn't much to say about it. I thought I would because the incident reminded me of a blogpost I wrote last year, right before the then-new TV season was starting. I discussed how highly I thought not only of how "Two and a Half Men", can benefit from a cast change, but also on "The Office," who also had the daunting task of replacing it's longtime lead role on their show. The article is posted below.

http://davidbaruffi.blogspot.com/2011/08/two-and-half-men-vs-office-who-will-win.html

I re-read it after the news of Jones's rant broke, and realized a few things. One is how I'm not as good a prognosticator than I'd prefer to think of myself as. James Spader, is no longer even on "The Office," and frankly, while I still watched and liked the season with him, it was clearly not as great fit, and they went back and added Catherine Tate to the show, who was one of the original red herrings as to who would replace Steve Carell, and now, the show is in it's final season. "Two and a Half Men", hasn't exactly had a resurgence since Sheen left, but the show remains on, is still fairly popular, although has fallen off from it's status as the "Highest-Rated Sitcom", ironically to Chuck Lorre's other show "The Big Bang Theory", but it's still respected enough to earn Jon Cryer last year's Emmy for Best Actor, making him the first person to win Emmys for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor, for playing the same role, on the same show since Michael J. Fox, did it on "Family Ties".

As to "Two and a Half Men" itself, my criticisms still haven't changed much, despite the addition of Ashton Kutcher, and actually, despite the source and the influence of that source, much of what Angus T. Jones's said of the show, while badly worded, is fairly accurate. No, I don't think the show is filth. I don't think it's a bad show. I don't think it's that good, anymore, or hasn't been in years, but I've actually been amazed at the show's staying power, as well as it's utter resistance to any kind of growth, particularly in the Angus T. Jones's character. Yes, he's a dumb kid, and some kids are stupid when they're young, and remain that way well into adulthood, but is that really something that's fun to watch on television? I don't think Jake is non-existent, but I think you could argue that the show might be better if he was. I mean, when the show began, he was the dumb, unambitious kid in the middle of an ugly divorce, and now, nine, ten years later, exactly how much has changed? Not a whole lot. Oh, now he's in the Army and is now mostly scene on Skype videos, unless they can find a Miley Cyrus to guest star, and give him some kind of half-ass storyline, that doesn't involve him getting stoned, or being ignorantly blissful of, anything that could've potentially made his character grow in any significant way. No, I'm not looking for the kid who's failed in school the whole series to suddenly be accepted into some Ivy League school, or something, but.... It's not just him, the whole show has been resistant to any character changes.

The lack of change from practically everyone, the unlikeable and delusional Alan character, his disturbing ex-wife,.... What the Waldon character has done is good, and added some change to a show that absolutely needed it, but the core of the show, still hasn't really changed, and it's been fairly unwatchable for years now. Frankly, I'm wondering why Chuck Lorre has been so reluctant to have his characters have, grow or at least, overcome a major obstacle of some kind. I think of his other shows, including, and especially "The Big Bang Theory," and not only is there an immense amount of growth and change in thier characters, and the addition of extra characters, that flow into the show, continually progressing characters. Not just that show. His show "Dharma & Greg," was about two completely different people, eventually evolving into each other, and eventually in that show, one of them had a life-threatening car accident in the series. Talk about a character suddenly changing. He's worked on such shows as "Roseanne," and "Cybill", in high-powered positions previously, all those shows constantly featured slow growth in their series' characters, as do, nearly every TV show. I wonder if he thinks, his purposeful lack of it, on "Two and a Half Men," is a purposeful break with TV tradition, and an attempt to be different. I think it's one of the main reasons why his show, has been filled with disgruntled actors who seem to have set goals of destroying, at least temporarily their TV careers. Charlie Sheen got himself fired eventually, Angus T. Jones's has made it clear that once his contract is up, he's done with the series. I'm starting to think that giving Jon Cryer the Emmy is just for having to put up with him on this show, every year. I called his character "delusional" as oppose to Sheen's character, which represented "reality" in that previous blog, and I don't think his character has exactly changed much from that description since, although he's now taken the form of "survivalist," in the most minimal form. He's only survival skills is the ability to hang around, and not pay for anything. He's got a girlfriend now, (at least I think he still has the Courtney Thorne-Smith character as a girlfriend, I don't remember now) because she's in the same position as Alan. Unskilled, with a kid, who she's raised poorly and has a lifelong goal of being a pothead.

I guess, I have two main complaints about "Two and a Half Men", one, the characters never change. Judith is still the bitchy ex-wife of Alan, who's still the useless delusional single-parent who can only survive on the kindness of others, the mother is still an ungrateful, unloving mother, Berta's, still Berta, (although I do appreciate that about her) and the dumb kid, is still a dumb kid, the result of two useless parents who shouldn't have had him to begin with. The second complaint, is that, none of these characters are interesting. Not anymore anyway. They were at first, but all characters in TV shows, "Seinfeld" exception, have to evolve. Actually, no, "Seinfeld" isn't an exception, because the characters did change and had interests that evolved, thoughts and opinions, and jobs that changed. That's the keyword, change. No show can survive without characters having progressive growth. Sure, the wrong kind of progressive growth can ruin, or at least shorten a sitcom at times, but absolutely none at all, means that you have the same actors doing the same things over and over again, and getting older and older, doing them. I don't know a lot about acting, but actors don't like to simply, play the same character over and over again. If they do, they expect to grow into these characters and evolve and find out more about them, as a series continues on. Like an actor themselves, a character must find, and confront new challenges, and start to learn to approach them in new and different ways. That's as big a reason why actors would leave a successful show, as money is. That's why the highest-paid TV actors, are the ones who've played the same characters for years, because they can get tired of them pretty easily. As an audience member, I can get tired of them too. Think for a minute, how good would "Cheers" have remained if Sam & Diane, actually did get married, and she stayed on the show, the wife of Sam for the rest of the show? It would've sucked. Her character was done, for the time being, she left, and now, Rebecca Howe comes in, and Sam has new challenges, many new challenges. Even when a new condition, seemed to be forthcoming on "Two and a Half Men," it isn't, and it's quickly evaporated. Charlie almost getting married, Alan almost moving out, multiple times, Alan getting married even. Nothing eventually changes, and everything remains the same. I blame Chuck Lorre for that. It's not like the show couldn't have changed dozens of times over the years, and still be as good or better than it is, and maybe even keep a sober Charlie Sheen on the show, but he hasn't. Now, even the half man, thinks the show's not good.

Whatever Chuck Lorre's ultimate vision of what "Two and a Half Men", is certainly questionable at best, and just strange at worst, and I'm not surprised by these public actor rebellions of the show. I don't know what blind spot, he has for this show, but it's caused him to resist changing a show, at almost every turn, when it would change, for the better, so a show can actually grow. Even Meathead and Archie eventually kinda got like each other by the time they left that show. They both grew, and changed. Now, a change of condition only happens when he's absolutely forced to, and even then, reluctantly.

You know what, Lorre, time to kill your half man. He's already a full man, who doesn't want to be on the show, and you've put him in the Army. Kill him off now, it seems like a good enough time, and then, do something, with any/all of the other characters. Besides, he should've been killing these babies, a long time ago.
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