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FX Welcomes Sheen Back To TV, But Will Viewers?

Jun 28, 2012
Originally published on June 28, 2012 11:34 am
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LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Tonight, one of the most famously dysfunctional Hollywood stars is coming back to television. Charlie Sheen's new sitcom, on FX, is called "Anger Management." Last year, he was the star of "Two and a Half Men," but his erratic behavior led CBS to fire him. TV critic Eric Deggans says the big question is whether people really want to watch more Charlie Sheen on the small screen.

ERIC DEGGANS: My best tip for enjoying Charlie Sheen's new show?

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "ANGER MANAGEMENT")

DEGGANS: Start with seriously low expectations.

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DEGGANS: No kidding. The big joke here is that Sheen's new character, Charlie Goodson, is an anger-management therapist with a temper. He ruined a promising career as a baseball player by blowing up in public.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "ANGER MANAGEMENT")

DEGGANS: In between the clunky punch lines, producers sprinkle "Anger Management" with nods to its star's infamous, hard-partying past. It's about as subtle as a sledgehammer. The first joke in the first scene of the first episode, is a serious flashback as Charlie Goodson shows his patients how to vent their frustrations.

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DEGGANS: Jokes like this also feel weird because the last time many of us heard from Charlie Sheen, he sounded like this...

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: I - I - I am on a drug. It's called Charlie Sheen. Um - it, uh - it's not available because if you try it once, you will die. Your face will melt off, and your children will weep over your exploded body. Um - too much.

DEGGANS: Ah, the days when Charlie talked of tiger blood, warlocks, and beating up the executive producer of "Two and Half Men." No wonder he was finally kicked off the highest-paying job on TV's most successful comedy. On NBC's "Today" show earlier this year, even Sheen admitted he may have gone a bit too far.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "TODAY")

DEGGANS: Now, "the Sheenius" wants to get back to what he was doing before - phoning it in on a cheesy sitcom that winks at his outlandish personal life.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "ANGER MANAGEMENT")

DEGGANS: Seems there's not much difference between the lowbrow wisecracks on "Anger Management," and the lazy comedy of "Two and Half Men." Because it's on FX, the jokes are a little saltier. And when Sheen is in bed with a woman, his shirt's off. But he's really just trying to reset the clock; asking fans to forget that barrel of crazy he cracked open last year, and accept him again as the lovable rogue with an expansive off-screen lifestyle.

I say, it's time for a fan intervention. We know the star of "Wall Street" and "Platoon" can do better. So let's avoid acting as Sheen's enablers, and pass on watching this string of thinly written punch lines with a laugh track turned to 11. In the end, we may be the only ones left who can save Charlie Sheen from himself.

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WERTHEIMER: Eric Deggans is TV and media critic for the Tampa Bay Times.

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WERTHEIMER: This is NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.