Let's get something out of the way at the start: You'll find about a dozen episodes of "Two and a Half Men" on my DVR. They're mostly the reruns that air weeknights on Channel 18, and they stretch back to the first of the sitcom's seven seasons.
I generally watch a couple of them before I go to sleep. They're relaxing and unchallenging and, most of the time, hilarious. The show may be crude and sexist and as politically incorrect as network TV gets. And I love it, fart jokes and all.
Obviously, I'm not alone. This show has consistently been in the Nielsen top 20.
So, word that the CBS show -- with new episodes airing at 8 p.m. Mondays on Channel 58 -- is halting production, thanks to the ongoing problems facing Charlie Sheen, is terrible news for me and a lot of other viewers.
Last week, CBS and the show's creator, Chuck Lorre, issued a statement supporting "Sheen in his decision today to begin voluntary in-patient care at a treatment center. We wish him nothing but the best as he deals with this personal matter. Production on ‘Two and a Half Men' will be temporarily suspended."
By week's end there was talk that Sheen might not be back this season at all, endangering a valuable half-hour of prime time.
It's not really a surprise. We've known for years that the real Charlie is even more childish than the womanizing, hard-drinking "Charlie Harper."
This unfunny chapter began on Christmas, when Sheen was arrested after a fight with his wife, Brooke Mueller. His ex-wife, Denise Richards, has accused him of pushing her around in the past, making threats and being generally nasty. He's been in drug rehab in the past, and was a client of Hollywood madame Heidi Fleiss.
He's also a "truther," who doubts the official version of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.
Frankly, none of it affects my enjoyment of "Two and a Half Men." What actors do off camera usually don't have an impact on the characters I'm watching on TV, at least for me. I don't care about their politics, the causes they're interested in, or their morals. I care about the illusion they create in their role.
I was late to the "Two and a Half Men" party, despite the strong endorsement years ago of my pal and former co-worker, Joanne Weintraub, then TV critic at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. I got a big kick out of Joanne liking the show, since her tastes tended to be far more, um, refined than my own.
But I finally succumbed sometime last year, starting with the new shows on CBS and finally loading the DVR with what's become my one of my default shows. You know what I mean: a show that's easy and find to digest when I need to relax. Default shows change from time to time. (For the record, my other current default show is HGTV's "House Hunters International.")
I'm hoping that Sheen's problems don't sink the show. But with six and a half seasons of "Two and a Half Men," I'm not that worried. There's plenty of them to watch, until I burn out and move on to my next mindless default show.
- HGTV is looking for Milwaukee area homeowners for season 4 of its "Bang for Your Buck" show. What producers want are three recent basement renovations in the $20,000 to $120,000 price range. Of course, they also want "fun and enthusiastic" homeowners to go on camera to talk aboutt he project. Send your before-and-after photos to email@example.com by March 11. Or call Cyndi Ortiz at (303) 712-3177. Filming is scheduled for April 28 to May 1.
- Channel 12 plans a phone bank to answer income tax questions between 5 and 7 a.m. Tuesday, staffed with H&R Block experts. The number will be on the screen Tuesday morning.
- Roger Ebert visits Oprah Winfrey at 4 p.m. Tuesday on Channel 12 to unveil his computer-generated voice. If you're interested in the Chicago Sun-Times movie critic and his ongoing battle with cancer, check out his interview with Esquire.
The return of Jay Leno: It's hard to imagine that anybody who cares doesn't know that Jay Leno returns to NBC's "The Tonight Show" tonight at 10:35 on Channel 4. The only question is how much of his old late-night audience will return with him.
The latest "The Tonight Show" promo says a lot about Leno's comedy style. Curling is so last month.
Tim Cuprisin is the media columnist for OnMilwaukee.com. He's been a journalist for 30 years, starting in 1979 as a police reporter at the old City News Bureau of Chicago, a legendary wire service that's the reputed source of the journalistic maxim "if your mother says she loves you, check it out." He spent a couple years in the mean streets of his native Chicago, and then moved on to the Green Bay Press-Gazette and USA Today, before coming to the Milwaukee Journal in 1986.
A general assignment reporter, Cuprisin traveled Eastern Europe on several projects, starting with a look at Poland after five years of martial law, and a tour of six countries in the region after the Berlin Wall opened and Communism fell. He spent six weeks traversing the lands of the former Yugoslavia in 1994, linking Milwaukee Serbs, Croats and Bosnians with their war-torn homeland.
In the fall of 1994, a lifetime of serious television viewing earned him a daily column in the Milwaukee Journal (and, later the Journal Sentinel) focusing on TV and radio. For 15 years, he has chronicled the changes rocking broadcasting, both nationally and in Milwaukee, an effort he continues at OnMilwaukee.com.
When he's not watching TV, Cuprisin enjoys tending to his vegetable garden in the backyard of his home in Whitefish Bay, cooking and traveling.