Paging Matthew Broderick
So I was hearing that Hugh Grant almost replaced Charlie Sheen on Two and a Half Men. And when that deal fell through, we heard today that Ashton Kutcher has been cast instead. What both these data points suggest is that the producers are looking to cast a character at least roughly in the Charlie Harper mold--a womanizing, drunk, misogynist (no offense to Hugh Grant, who I actually like, or Kutcher, who I kind of don't and yet have nor reason to believe to be a drunk or woman-hater).
And, to me, this is entirely wrong. By writing a new character with similar traits, you pretty much will automatically get a character that is an imitation of Sheen's. Not that many couldn't play the role better*, but then the game becomes comparing the Sheen show to the new show. You've got a situation where every character interaction and plot has to compete with the memory of how that same type of interaction or plot was dealt with before. Which, in my estimation, would be death to the show.
But what if they wrote a character that existed on the other side of Cryer's nebbishy Alan, and made Alan the wild-by-comparison one? A kind of Sancho Panza thing, where Cryer's character has become more like Sheen's character over the years**. So we get someone more repressed, nebbishy, straightlaced to play off of Cryer. To me that's a much better solution. It keeps intact the odd couple dynamic that is at the heart of the show and yet opens up an entirely new possibility of dynamics. And it allows Cryer to nominally take over the "lead" role, a position he has no doubt earned, and earned hard.
Am I nuts?
*During the whole Sheen brouhaha, what insulted my sense of right and wrong most was that Sheen believed that it was his talent that was the key ingredient to the show's success, when it's always been very clear to me that many, many actors could have played Charlie Harper better and with more skill.
**Which he has - when the show started Alan was a much more stable, whitebread, moral character. Over the course of the show he became as sexually exaggerated and, in different ways, out-of-control as Charlie.