COLUMN: Charlie Sheen's return to TV has shortfalls but not insolvable
The man, the myth, the legend Charlie Sheen is back at it again on network television. No longer being constrained by CBS, Sheen has started a new stint in his colorful acting career with his new television show “Anger Management.”
Sheen began his acting career with movie roles, starring in “Wall Street” and “Major League 2,” but Sheen did not become a household name until he began with the television show, “Two and a Half Men.”The show premiered in 2003 on CBS. The pilot episode caught fire, and the show set America on fire with Sheen playing Charlie Harper, Jon Cryer playing Charlie’s younger brother Allen Harper and Angus T. Jones playing Allen’s son, Jake.
Nearly every show followed the same basic plot, with Charlie sleeping with some random girl in the beginning of the episode. Then as the episode went on, Allen would interject with some clever one-liners and Jake would add his naive, childlike opinion.
Most episodes ended with Charlie fleeing from his “relationship” with the girl he had met in the beginning of the episode, and there was an “I told you so” moment from Allen. The monotony of the episodes began to bore Sheen, and he started disliking the direction the show was going.
During his tenure with “Two and a Half Men,” Sheen made $1.25 million per show. This figure easily made Sheen the highest-paid television actor in history. Why would you throw away a seven-figure paycheck per episode?
The highly controversial actor was dropped from the show after 178 episodes due to his rising “I don’t care” attitude. Cocaine use, refusal to go to rehab treatments and an overall lackluster performance led CBS and Warner Bros. to fire Sheen from the hit show in March 2011.
After his dismissal, Sheen said he was going to sue CBS and Warner Bros. for wrongful termination and that his return to television would be a big one.
Sheen’s “big” return to television came in late June, with the long-awaited premiere of his new television show, “Anger Management.” It is a sitcom loosely based on the feature length movie, “Anger Management" (2003), starring Jack Nicholson and Adam Sandler.
In the spin-off sitcom, Sheen plays Charlie Gibson, a failed major league baseball player who has fallen back on his psychology degree. Sheen is accompanied by Selma Blair (“Cruel Intentions,” “Hellboy”), who plays Sheen’s therapist, Kate. Shawnee Smith (“Becker,” “Saw”) plays Charlie’s ex-wife, Jennifer Gibson.
The show follows Gibson as he tries to council his anger management group while trying to balance his relationship with Kate and his therapist with benefits, as well as helping raise his teenage daughter, Sam (played by Daniela Bodadilla).
When “Anger Management” premiered its first episode June 28, it shattered the record for ratings with 5.74 million viewers tuning in — the most-watched sitcom premiere in television history.
Even with all the success “Anger Management” had on its premiere, ratings have continually dropped, and the lack of funny lines really is a disappointment for those die-hard Sheen fans.
What made “Two and a Half Men” special was its ability to keep adding to the storyline and be original in content and character development. “Anger Management” is almost the opposite. It gives the audience little versatility and almost no back story.
However, “Anger Management” is in its first season, and these shortfalls can be fixed. I hope so because it has the cast and talent to make a great sitcom.
Brent Stenstrom is a broadcasting and electronic media junior.