There’s a reason it’s so difficult to recap shows like Two and a Half Men. While modern sitcoms have adopted a more realistic approach (including linear storylines, moments of drama and jokes that can take multiple seasons to pay off), Men and a few others are old-school vaudeville: setup, punchline, repeat. You see every payoff coming, and characters tend to be one-note stereotypes.
This is a long way of saying I’ve never before been able to sit through Men. But with the CSI writers crossing over, how could I resist?
The corpse is Teddy (a slumming Robert Wagner), who moments earlier married Charlie and Alan’s mother. While George Eads steals an attractive woman from Alan, Charlie alerts mom, who calls the cops… after trying to trade in the honeymoon tickets for a better single-person vacation. Ba-dum-dum.
Commence the detective work from a bang-on Marg Helgenberger impression and a generically handsome man in a tight T-shirt. Teddy, see, was found with pants around his ankles and sporting a lipstick ring on, um, Little Teddy, plus a nasty bruise on the back of his head. Of course the murder was about sex! Speaking of sex, Charlie is first under the harsh lights. He makes some entirely spot-on comments about Faux-Catherine’s tight shirt and cleavage. Soon enough, though, he’s selling out his mother Evelyn, whose husbands keep dying.
Let’s tear through the suspects: Charlie sells out Evelyn; Alan sputters nervously; Jake asks for cop-stereotype junk food; housekeeper Berta wants to be frisked by Generic Handsome CSI; and Evelyn does a great job of implicating herself. It’s all for naught. Teddy and his supposed daughter (Jenny McCarthy) weren’t millionaires, they were grifters and lovers. With their plan having come to fruition, they celebrate a bit too friskily and Teddy dies of a heart attack.
Charlie curses the daughter to the high heavens and, when she’s perp-walked past, calls out that he’ll wait for her. Ba-dum-dum.
Was it funny? Actually, in places it was. Faux-Catherine was brilliant, with Marg’s mannerisms and look so true to form it was difficult to remember it wasn’t actually Marg. The CGI corpse-cam was used mostly to show Jake eating and eventually farting. The grainy flashbacks were the best parts, including one far-fetched theory about Teddy and a clown that had me actually guffawing. Go figure, it was wordless.
Thursday, the tables are turned and the Men writers pen CSI. Hold onto your Whoopie cushions!