Two and a Half Men: Our Two and a Half Cents

Ashton Kutcher made his Two and a Half Men debut on Monday night, leaving many a viewer wondering: Can Dharma and Greg maybe stick around?

That is, in a season premiere ostensibly set up to wow us with Kutcher’s comedic skills and make us look forward to a shiny and happy versus Sheen-y future, it was a flurry of cameos in the first act that delivered the only fun.

The half-hour opened with Charlie Harper’s well-spoiled funeral, he the victim of a suspicions train mishap. In attendance were any number of past “conquests,” including characters played by Jeri Ryan, Emmanuelle Vaugier, Jenny McCarthy, Liz Vassey, Jodi Lyn O’Keefe and Tricia Helfer. (Say what you will about Charlie H., but dude did well.)

That these women scorned were outwardly callous about Charlie’s demise made sense, but the funeral took an odd turn when Charlie’s mother used the forum to brazenly hawk her dead son‘s for-sale beachfront property. I was never any sort of regular Men fan, but I don’t recall Evelyn being that emotionally detached from her playboy son.

Yet it was the open house at Charlie’s home that gave us the “best” sight gag: On the heels on John Stamos (or someone played by Stamos) surveying and then snubbing the digs, Evelyn showed the property to sitcom lore’s Dharma and Greg (played by Jenna Elfman and Thomas Gibson) — though it was sad to see that while the former is still very Zen, their marriage seems a bit tense.

Oh, right – this is about Kutcher. One scene later, his Walden Schmidt pops up on the porch, causing Alan to heave Charlie’s ashes into the air, scattering all around… humorously.

And from then on, Men wrestled with the hung-like-an-elephant in the room: Is there as much humor to be mined from a goofy, well-endowed billionaire as there was from a not-as-wealthy jingle writer who seemed to satisfy women just as easily? Early indicators suggest no, seeing as the sitcom already and quickly played the “Look, He Accidentally Bedded Two Hotties At Once While Alan Lay Weeping and [BLEEP]ing” card.

What’s done is done. The clothing-averse, hug-friendly Walden is going to buy Charlie’s house, and presumably will invite Alan and Jake to keep living there, as “relationship-savvy” Alan helps him get over his wife, Bridget. But will the viewers who once made Men TV’s most-watched comedy continue to call the beach house home?