LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The long-running “Two and a Half Men” called it a night on Thursday after a decade of laughs and a little drama.
At its height, “TAAHM” ruled. It also pushed the envelope. Often edgy on air, the show had its share of controversies on the tube and off.
CBS2’s Pat Harvey sat down with some of the stars and creative force Chuck Lorre to reflect on the show’s storied past.
Despite the turbulent and headline-grabbing moments, Lorre said the show never wavered from its original goal: to make the audience laugh.
“We never wanted to do a show where the husband would return to the wife on the living room couch after watching the show and say that was amusing. That was very clever. I wanted spontaneous out-loud laughter. How rye. Well, that was a snappy line.”
Lorre, the man behind those “snappy lines” is also the creative genius behind other CBS hits like “Mike and Molly,” “Mom” and TV’s No. 1 comedy, “The Big Bang Theory.”
Harvey talked to Lorre on the “TAAHM” soundstage, Stage 26 at Warner Bros., officials now known as the “Two and a Half Men” stage.
“We kinda stumbled into finding our voice. Our voice was edgy, our voice upset a lot of people. The voice was considered in bad taste, vulgar and whatnot. But the attempt was never to shock people. The goal was always to make the people laugh. Period. End of story.”
It’s a story he concedes wasn’t always laugh-out-loud funny. He addressed the very public firing of series star Charlie Sheen in 2011.
Production shut down. Many wondered if the show, even at the top of the ratings, could continue.
Two-time Emmy winner Jon Cryer watched helplessly as he watched Sheen spiral downward.
Harvey asked Cryer how he got through the drama.
“The hardest part of it was watching a friend or anyone who has had a co-worker that has gone through a drug problem that is what it is like. This one was just amplified a million-fold. And it got a little more interesting than other people’s experience with this. It put a lot of pressure on Ashton [Kutcher] when he came in,” Cryer said.
“The thing is, like Jon said, you feel bad for anybody that is going through just whatever personal trauma they are going through. Self-inflicted or not. And then to have to go through it in public and magnify it. Wow, this is happening in the public eye and nobody is jumping in and going: Enough! I was totally an observer, and I was the guy that if they offered me that job, I would take it,” Kutcher said.
The show was able to change direction on a dime.
“Both of our characters have been deeply flawed in the relationship thing. And the idea was that we would try and help each other but not be very good at it, and we have done that and we have succeeded at that,” Cryer said.
When all is said and done, Lorre acknowledges, there was one message he was hoping the show would have imparted. The impact two very different men can have on raising a child, something rare on TV.
“You are always playing a little bit from your life,” Lorre said, “but the show is also a bit about wish fulfilment. In the beginning, we were very cognizant that everybody wanted to be Charlie, but in reality we are all Alan.”
Editor’s Note: The one cameo “TAAHM” die-hards were hoping to see was a return by Sheen in some way, even if his character had once been killed off and returned as a ghost in the form of Kathy Bates. Lorre, known for getting the final word with his title cards, also called vanity cards, that end each show, wrote in No. 491:
“I know a lot of you might be disappointed that you didn’t get to see Charlie Sheen in tonight’s finale. For the record, he was offered a role. Our idea was to have him walk up to the front door in the last scene, ring the doorbell, then turn, look directly into the camera and go on on a maniacal rant about the dangers of drug abuse. He would then explain that these dangers only applied to average people. That he was far from average. He was a ninja warrior from Mars. He was invincible.
And then we would drop a piano on him.
We thought it was funny.
Instead, he wanted us to write a heartwarming scene that would set up his return to primetime TV in a new sitcom called “The Harpers,” starring him and Jon Cryer.
We thought that was funny, too.”
For a link to all of Chuck Lorre’s vanity cards, click here.