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Jon Cryer To CBS Execs: "Dude, Where's My Hugh Grant?"

By Seth Freilich | Industry | May 13, 2011 |

By Seth Freilich | Industry | May 13, 2011 |

It seems like just yesterday that all the hubbub regarding “Two and a Half Men” was that Hugh Grant was this close to taking the role, only to slip out of CBS’ grasp at the last second. Courtney thought this was a blessing. Well, joke’s on Jon Cryer, because late yesterday, word came out that instead of getting to play sitcom with the lovely Mr. Grant, Duckie will instead be teaming up with the less-than-lovely Mr. (Demi) Moore.

Truth be told, this makes sense to me. We all heard the Hugh Grant news and wondered how the hell you could every possibly fold him into the show. It’s not nearly as confounding a premise to fold Kutcher in. “Two and a Half Men” is a lazy, pandering comedy. Kutcher can do lazy and pandering. Presumably, his character will be a kindred spirit to Sheen’s, a misogynist lothario. Kutcher can do misogynist lothario. This just makes sense.

Not only does it make sense, I think it could be an improvement. Whatever acting ability Sheen once had, he threw it to the curb long ago, choosing to stumble through “Two and a Half Men” with performance that was just a sedated/toned-down version of himself. But Kutcher can actually act. If you think back to a time before he was rom-coming it with Natalie Portman, before he was raising Bruce’s kid’s, and before he was being a Punk, you’ll remember that he spent the better part of a decade on “That 70’s Show,” and for a years, he was quite entertaining. He played the lovable dumb lunk very well. And even though he’s done a lot of shit movies over the last however many years, he’s actually shown hints of being decent here and there, particularly when he’s toned down (in fact, while “No Strings Attached” was junk, he was pretty watchable throughout). If Chuck Lorre and company decide not to take unleash the manic Kutcher, and write him a slightly more nuanced role, it could be really interesting. Whether Lorre knows how to write anything nuanced is, of course, a highly questionable proposition.

At the end of the day, I have zero expectations that this is going to lead to the show improving by any truly discernible amount from a critical perspective. But it may get a little better. More importantly, I don’t think the show is going to lose too many of its fans, at least initially, as a result of this decision. The first episode back will surely be a ratings bonanza (I haven’t tuned into an episode of the show in years, but curiosity will certainly get the better of me to at least see how they right Sheen out and Kutcher in), and most of those gawkers won’t be back for week two. But if they handle the transition right, the show could remain a ratings powerhouse for CBS. The joke of this article’s headline and header pic aside, I’d actually be pretty stoked if I were Cryer, because this decision gives the show more than a fighting chance to keep on living, which means Cryer doesn’t yet have to read that Hiding Out 2 script. Which is a shame for the rest of us, because fuck you, I’d totally go see Hiding Out 2.

(Source: TV By the Numbers)

Seth is a Senior Editor and sometime critic. You may email him here or follow him on Twitter.

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