Dharma & Greg and Two And A Half Men

Dharma & Greg (1997 – 2002)
Two And A Half Men (2003 -     )
Type: Crossover

   Kinda funky. Usually if there is a crossover that crossover is the biggest attraction of the episode. In this case it's not even close to the biggest attention getter.

   Two And A Half Men was a sitcom hit created by Chuck Lorre. It was a new take on the Odd Couple formula. Charlie Sheen played Charlie Harper, a successful composer who liked wine and women in addition to song. He also probably liked drugs. Charlie Harper played directly off Charlie Sheen's real life party persona. Jon Cryer played Charlie's uptight brother, Alan Harper. Alan was a newly divorced father. After the divorce, Alan and his son, Jake, move in with Charlie. The contrast between uptight dad Alan and goodtime Charlie provided much of the comedy for the show. Another character I need to mention is Charlie's neighbor, Rose. Rose was Chalie's crazy but mostly harmkess stalker. Really.

   Two And A Half Men was a huge hit for CBS. But thinks went hinky in 2011. Midway through the 2010 - 2011 season Chuck Lorre got concerned over how out of control he felt Charlie Sheen was getting in his real life. Again, ironic since it's that very personal life the show riffed off of. But Lorre and others behind the scenes were afraid Charlie was going to crash and burn. They wanted him to get help. Sheen wanted them to get off his back. It became a huge public scandal. Production stopped on the show before the end of the season. CBS cut back on the number of episodes it requested for the year. It looked like the whole show might be cancelled. Eventually the decision was made to fire Sheen and try to continue the show without him. But the problem was how do you do Two And A Half Men with just one and a half men? The decision was made to replace Charlie Sheen? But with who? A lot of names floated through the rumor mill including John Stamos. In the end though the choice was made to cast Ashton Kutcher. He could fit the bill of a handsome party boy AND he had sitcom experience having started off on the sitcom That 70s Show. But would it work? Could the show survive the loss of such a major lead. In a similar situation in the 80s Laverne And Shirley failed to survive the departure of Cindy Williams.

   All of the gossip and scandal though served to help in the end. When the show returned in the fall of 2011 everybody and their mother tuned in just to see what would happen. The show started with Charlie Harper's funeral. They straight up killed Charlie Sheen off. The idea was that Charlie had run off to Europe with his stalker, Rose, and even decided to marry her. But then, as they were standing at a train station he fell in front of a train. They graphically described how he basically exploded. Weirder though is that truthfully the show spells out that, really, Rose killed Charlie. As Rose explains in her eulogy, she caught him cheating on her and then the next day he slipped on the metro platform and fell in front of a train. It's made pretty clear that the truth is she pushed Charlie in front of the train. This is all played for laughs, It was funny but, to me, it was also creepy. Treating the fictional Charlie's exit with vicious comedy as a shot at the real Charlie Sheen made me a bit uncomfortable. I understand why they did it, that they were sort of venting. But once this is in syndication and distanced from what happened I wonder if it will seem too harsh. Additionally, if Charlie Sheen was to ever actually die from his wild lifestyle, this episode might not seem funny at all but horribly uncomfortable. It could happen.

   Alan ends up inheriting Charlie's house. Only Alan can't afford the payments on the house or the upkeep, not to mention the multiple mortgages Charlie took out. In the end, Ashton Kutcher's character, Walden Schmidt, an internet billionaire ended up stumbling into Alan's life and decided to not only buy the house but to also let Alan and Jake stick around and share the house.

   But before Walden showed up, a number of other interesting people stopped by the house to see if they wanted to buy it. One of those people was John Stamos, a winking reference to his almost moving in as Charlie's replacement.

   The next people to stop by are another odd couple from Chuck Lorre's earlier series, Dharma and Greg from the show Dharma & Greg. Dharma & Greg, the show, was about a straight laced Assistant District Attorney named Greg Montgomery who, in a totally out of character move, met and almost immediately married Dharma Finklestein, a totally not straight laced free spirit hippy chick. Similarly that show's comedy came from the differences of that odd couple, only with romance thrown in. On Two And A Half Men they showed up for the open house at Charlie's place. Dharma loved the house's feng shui. Greg hated how long his commute would be. They start really fighting with Greg suggesting Dharma file for divorce and Dharma telling Greg to watch it or she'd take his uptight bourgeois family for all they had. As they left Greg even mock shot himself in the head with his finger. Funny to see Dharma and Greg again, a funny idea to also see things hadn't stayed all cutesy romantic for them. But it was also sort of dark and sour to see that, well, things hadn't stayed all cutesy romantic for them. Again, just more vinegar for an already bitter episode.

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