Revolving in notions of what is said and not said has never been more truthful in the drama of “Two & A Half Men” over the past year. Jon Cryer, long the unsung hero of the show as Alan because of his ability to sacrifice dignity at times for the sake of a joke, spoke to The Inside Reel’s Tim Wassberg on the texture that makes the show more than it might seem.
Tim Wassberg: Can you talk about the story progression on the show after the loss of Charlie?
Jon Cryer: First of all, it was very strange to have the plots hang on Alan which happened a few times last season but was unusual still for me. What’s been nice about the last few episodes we’ve been shooting is that it has mostly been hanging on Walden [Ashton’s character] (sighs) just like old good times. I think the hardest episode for me to do is when Alan lost it and started thinking he was Charlie…because to find a tone that worked was difficult. The writing came through so strongly on that episode that it did alot of the work for me. I’d love to take credit (chuckling) but it was mostly the writing.
TW: But you had to angle the comedy differently though to make that angle work.
JC: Yes. Because we didn’t want to do an impression. We thought that would be inappropriate but we had to sort of embody who he was and who Charlie Harper was…and not obviously what Charlie Sheen was. I don’t know. It felt like very risky territory but I feel like we got away with it. And we had to deal with it in some respect. When you lose a sibling, it’s a devastating experience and obviously dealing with it in any way comedically is hard. But I think the writers have jumped through some really amazing hoops on this.
TW: Do you feel that Alan is a more confident character now?
He gets full of himself because he’s actually on the board [of Walden’s company] and has an actual job. But I don’t know how long that’s going to last.
TW: Is this different perspective of who Alan thinks he is manifested differently for you through both the physical and emotional comedy?
JC: Part of what’s always been fun is that Alan is “Job” [from the Bible]. He gets humiliated, dresses in women’s clothing and has no dignity whatsoever. And that’s great. I’m happy to continue that. But what I am doing hasn’t really changed. It’s just a small change in the dynamic of the scenes in a general sense.
The nature of legacy shows resounds in their ability to highlight and enhance without losing what they were in earlier incarnations. “Two & A Half Men” has been the most prevalent viewpoint in the last year with the departure of Charlie Sheen and eventual replacement by Ashton Kutcher but approaching characters like Batman and the vastness of the Star Wars universe holds its perils as well.
Batman: Brave & The Bold Interacting with the lore and mythology of other characters within the guise of Batman allows the creators to show and gauge the interest of fans (or the writers themselves) of how interesting certain backstories run. Highlighting lesser known vintage characters like The Atom or exploring the essence of sequel prowess with Green Lantern’s handling of Star Sapphire shows the possibility of them against those backdrops without having to worry about logic. However, something like traveling through time to save different incarnations of Batman so he can exist in the current timeline is straining belief but the creative team knows that this is a chance to go off the rails before the next series inevitably return to darkness.
The Clone Wars Making the mythology more vast and intrinsic without overcoming the basic nature of the universe it has a created is a daunting task especially when you are writing the backstories of several of the species in later films. What this show tends to do, in short order, with adequate results, is create a depth of structure where the features just laid the ground work. Two story progressions this season so far show this both with the “Water War” progression with the Gungans and the Mon Calamari which dictate certain emotional responses in terms of war structure. By contrast, the episodes with General Krell where he displays a lack of empathy and regard to the clones results in a mutiny of sorts that creates a microcosm of battle command in its simplest form wrestling the idea away from being purely Jedi=centric.
The Big Bang Theory The indiosyncrasies of the core bunch continue to grow but what Chuck Lorre has learned to do is spin moons within the planetary configuration of the core five specifically with Howard’s fiance and Amy, Sheldon’s would-be girlfriend. The show has always been about social inadequacy and how technology and simple awkwardness make the possibility of these people connecting even more so. By changing the dynamic, especially with Penny, the idea becomes more of a wingman persona with all these people moving out in different directions on their own while still remaining a core group with varying circumstances and results.
Two & A Half Men In resurrecting the show after the unfortunate inevitable departure of Charlie Sheen, one would have thought it would be disastrous without him. The way however the writers have maintained shows a distinct undeniable truth that the writing, if done in a very specific way without negating or denying Sheen’s influence and still having a snarky but not mean edge towards its former star, shows an effective overhaul. You realize how key the bumbling mannerisms of Jon Cryer truly anchor the show and magnifies the everyman quality of it. Ashton Kutcher’s character is not a Charlie Harper but takes on a more cool quality from creator Chuck Lorre’s other show “The Big Bang Theory” in that certain qualities can be good and bad. An especially good two episode arch involves Alan (Cryer) and his worst day as well as a psychotic break where he reverts and tries to emulate his brother. It is neat because it addresses the good and bad sides of Charlie Harper while showing empathy. It might not be the Charlie show anymore but it does show that it can survive with dignity and darkness without him.