Saturday, February 26, 2011

My Take on Charlie Sheen v Chuck Lorre and CBS

Let’s set the record straight as far as TWO AND HALF MEN and CBS goes.

TWO AND A HALF MEN premiered on Monday nights in the 2003-2004 season, following the top ten hit, EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND.

To make room for the new show, CBS moved Ted Danson’s BECKER to Wednesday nights. They could have easily just programmed Sheen’s show for that night – and effectively killed it. Instead, they gave it the BEST slot and instantly made it a top 15 series. Left to stand alone, BECKER died.

Two seasons later, RAYMOND went away – and CBS moved 2 1/2 MEN into the 9 pm drivers seat. They could have shifted KING OF QUEENS to 9 pm and moved 2 1/2 MEN elsewhere on the schedule. But they had the confidence that the show – which had outdrawn RAYMOND in its final year – could drive the night. And they were correct. But once again, CBS could have used the show to “drive” another night, and possibly killed it. They didn’t.

So CBS has basically coddled the series and everybody made a mint, from Charles Levine (Chuck Lorre) down to Carlos Estevez (Charlie Sheen).

And let's not forget that at the time TWO AND A HALF MEN was conceived, John Cryer was seen as TV poison after four flops (FAMOUS TEDDY Z, PARTNERS, GETTING PERSONAL, and THE TROUBLE WITH NORMAL). Sheen was a B level movie star with two seasons carrying Michael J. Fox's jock on SPIN CITY as his only success in TV. Chuck Lorre, coming off DHARMA AND GREG, was the force behind the show.

If Charlie Sheen is so confident of his drawing power as a sitcom star, he should sign a waiver and let ABC build a new show around him and debut it next September in the Monday 9 pm slot, against a rebuilt 2 1/2 MEN featuring Scott Baio as Charlie Harper, back from Paris with some minor plastic surgery. Anybody want to take bets on the ratings outcome? I didn’t think so.
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