Season 6 is Now Available to Own
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After being thoroughly impressed by the extraordinarily inventive scandalous wit utilized by the writers in the previous DVD set of America's number one smash TV comedy, I must say that I was initially dismayed by the lack of creativity evidenced at the start of the sixth season.
While fortunately it bounces back, unfortunately it doesn't manage to do so consistently until the middle of the set's second disc or approximately one half of the season's run with twelve's "Thank God For Scoliosis," which was a double-back on a previous episode as Alan (Jon Cryer) begins dating his receptionist whom Charlie (Charlie Sheen) of course had previously used and abused.
Yet despite this sign of more surefire comedic awkwardness to come as the men engage in multiple episode arcs with (gasp!) the same women and Charlie becomes engaged to the beautiful and kind Chelsea (Jennifer Taylor Bini), before "Scoliosis," there had only been one must-see via the ridiculously funny "It's Always Nazi Week" which was ironically the sixth episode of the sixth season that wouldn't be topped for six more episodes.
Helping to propel one of the season's biggest mysteries and comedic goldmines, in "Nazi Week," Alan and his ex-wife Judith (Marin Hinkle) briefly hook-up after she has a falling out with nerdy replacement husband Herb, played by the terrific Ryan Stiles from America's underrated take on UK's sketch comedy series Whose Line is It Anyway?
Needless to say, their old pet peeves along with fundamental down-to-their-core incompatibility soon take over which ends the couple's brief insecure mad dash for comfortable familiarity. However, when Judith is revealed to be pregnant six weeks later, their reunion is far from over as far as Alan's concerned. Yet since Judith and Herb had reconciled, Judith keeps her moment of insanity with Alan from Herb but it does little to keep Alan from trying to be a part of what very well could be his soon-to-be-born child's life.
While the familiarity of making whoopee isn't exchanged for the other kind of booties as in the land of Men, boom-boom always comes before babies, at the same time for fans who'd been growing weary of the same paradigm we'd seen previously, the show grows stronger with several plot-lines firmly in place.
Thus it endures after its odd start wherein the main problem seemed to be in the writing as it replaced the brilliance of its sexually charged hidden innuendo by fixating far too heavily on scatological humor wherein jokes about number two, the gasses emitted by Jake and the need of his father to use a special stool for stools became the most go-to source of humor.
Obviously "potty humor" as it was always called in my neck of the woods has never been foreign fodder for these Men but it was one of the many weapons housed in the show's successful arsenal of jokes and writers, comedy junkies, series enthusiasts, and the show's extremely hard working ensemble deserved much better than the series stooping that lazily low for laughs. I'm not sure if it's because they were spreading themselves too thin with the series mastermind Chuck Lorre's co-development and launch of the sweet and hilarious Big Bang Theory which will now play with the Men on Monday night's lineup in the most coveted time-slot on CBS.
Still, whatever the case may have been, once it makes its way past a few speed bumps, there are some priceless episodes to enjoy as Alan struggles internally about Judith's pregnancy but begins a romance that results in an acid trip with the girl's mother, Charlie grows serious about settling down, and Jake dates the girl next door whose ex-NFL star father is played by Michael Clarke Duncan. While guest stars including Alicia Witt, Sheen's brother Emilio Estevez and Duncan are introduced early on, it's Duncan who is given the best material when he returns for arguably one of the season's wittiest episodes following what we'd feared would be a one-time cameo.
Aside from the aforementioned titles, the other can't miss episodes include: "David Copperfield Slipped Me a Roofie" which saddles Alan with the worst fortieth birthday party in history (to our delight), "She'll Still Be Dead At Halftime" in which the trio has to get rid of a drunken, lingerie-clad, passed out blonde in Charlie's bed before his fiance returns, a Friends meets Sex and the City style dysfunctional bromance pity party in "The Two Finger Rule," and Alan's blind date with Melanie Lynskey's cutesy stalker Rose in "Above Exalted Cyclops."
Likewise, aside from a surprising turn at the end of the season that demands a DVR program for its comeback this month, by switching up the main duo's roles, we have new sources for laughs as Alan is the player of the season compared to Charlie and the Two rebounds from more of the same to new craziness as Charlie is put to the test taking care of Chelsea and Alan "text-blocks" Charlie when he becomes the quintessential gay best friend of Chelsea.
Sadly missing series favorite Lynskey in the interviews contained in the set's intriguing and hilarious featurette "The Women of Two and a Half Men" in which I realized the way that Conchata Ferrell's Berta has replaced Holland Taylor's mother Evelyn for Charlie, there's also an especially interesting portrait of Angus T. Jones and the way he's essentially come-of-age on television in the refreshingly earnest "Growing Up Harper" that presents us with not only the opposite of Jake but the opposite of a child actor stereotype.
Additionally containing the obligatory gag-reel that illustrates the way the actors cope with the tongue-twisting lines live in front of a studio audience and giggle fits (often even before the joke is uttered) which again makes you appreciate just how much more Cryer has to do in any given episode, the four-disc set from Warner Brothers thankfully includes a DVD episode-guide insert that lets you jump right to your favorites.
Uneven yet still more consistently funny than the crash-and-burn of NBC's The Office which has overstayed its welcome, by briefly showing us an alternate side of the Men as they slightly morph into one another and pick up atypical habits throughout season six, stale becomes fresh in a quality comeback for the perennial favorite network comedy.
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