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Sheen situation likely means lost episodes of 'Two and a Half Men,' but does it have to?


There is a lot of discussion at CBS and Warner Bros. about how many episodes of "Two and a Half Men" might have to be scuttled while Charlie Sheen takes a break from work to deal with his personal issues.

CBS has one more new episode of the show in the can that will likely air next week. That will be the 16th new episode this season. The network's deal with Warner Bros., the studio that makes the hit sitcom, calls for 24 episodes per season.

No one at CBS or Warner Bros. is saying when Sheen will be ready to return to work, although the rumblings that periodically emerge from the star's camp have indicated that it will be sooner rather than later. If he's back at the end of the month, then as few as a couple of episodes might go unmade. That was the case last season too when the order was cut from 24 to 22 because Sheen's personal issues interfered with production. Obviously, if his absence lasts longer than a month, industry thinking dictates that the rest of the order is in jeopardy.

But one wonders why, if CBS was willing to pay for 24 episodes and Warner Bros. and executive producer Chuck Lorre were game to make them, would they not just produce them when Sheen is back? Presumably, Lorre and the show's writing team have already mapped out the main themes for the rest of the season or could continue writing if they are not already. Of course, that's kind of like trying to write a college paper without a hard deadline -- and we all know how that goes.

Even if Sheen's absence drags on to later this spring and CBS couldn't use all the episodes this season, it could have them on hand for next season. Having more original episodes of a hit show is not a bad thing, especially in March and April when it seems like rerun central on television. 

It is presented as a fait accompli that because of the Sheen situation, the full order cannot be fulfilled. Reality is that once it becomes clear when Sheen can return to work, CBS and Warner Bros. will choose to decide whether to remain committed to that order. Another observation: If previous history is a guide, Sheen's issues tend to arise more often when he's not working than when he has a call time to meet.

For Warner Bros., the more episodes they get the better their rerun revenue down the road. CBS, however, already pays a lot of money for the show and privately probably wouldn't mind the savings that fewer originals would bring. The show does well in reruns, and conventional wisdom is that if you can get away with less, do it.

Admittedly, going ahead and finishing the 24-episode order would potentially cut into summer vacation for the writers and crew, but the show is shut down right now. This is not extra work; it's delayed work. Everyone keeps expressing concern about the lost wages for the folks who work on the show. This way, no wages are lost.

This, of course, goes against all industry logic, but fans of the show certainly wouldn't mind having a few more episodes to watch next season.

-- Joe Flint

Photo: "Two and a Half Men" stars Jon Cryer and Charlie Sheen. Credit: Greg Gayne / Associated Press


Comments () | Archives (4)

Here's an idea: make a few episodes WITHOUT Sheen... have him "written off" the script. Not that his character is "written out," but, say for example, he is on vacation... they could even do one where everyone is "looking for Charlie," then have it come to play at the end that he is on that vacation. Since the show emulates his personal life to a slight degree, it could even go to play that they write Charlie Harper as having gone to rehab. (Of course, they would then need to write it in that he failed (If by any chance you are reading this, Mr. Sheen, my apologies; I wish you the best in your personal life and recovery; but I just don't see your character being the same not being a boozing narcissistic masochist.... it's what makes your character so entertaining).) There's many ways they can continue to make new episodes to prevent the show from tanking... after all, what is the motto of show business: The show must go on!

maybe they should write episodes WITHOUT "Charlie Harper" as a character. They could have him having gone on vacation, etc., even rehab. They could spend an entire episode with the cast looking for him. Of course, if they write it where he went to rehab (especially since the show emulates Mr. Sheen's life to a certain degree), they would then need to have him "fall off the wagon" since what makes his character so entertaining is that Charlie Harper is a boozing narcissistic masochist.

I wish Mr. Sheen the best in his recovery, but isn't the motto of show business that "the show must go on!"? To put the show in jeopardy is asinine since there are other "plots" they can maneuver until Mr. Sheen has recovered and is in the best state to go back to work.

All different scenarios the writers can use, why not give that a try while Mr. Sheen is on hiatus, since it would not only keep new episodes flowing, throw a slight curveball into the show's plot line (that really could only serve to heighten viewer interest and curiosities), and avoid significant loss of viewers due to mid-season reruns and delays.

Because the writers are committed to other pilot deals during the hiatus.

You're the showbiz reporter?

What is pathetic is Sheen's callous disregard for the welfare of all those who do not make $750K per episode...the little guys who actually work for a living but his actions have put a kink in that.


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