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Commentary: Neither Sheen nor Kutcher a winner Monday night

Courtesy of MCT

When it was announced a few months ago that Ashton Kutcher’s debut on “Two and a Half Men” would be followed by Comedy Central’s roast of Charlie Sheen, the actor that Kutcher replaced on the show, the blogosphere and Twitterverse proclaimed it as a night that would be full of jokes about Sheen’s drug use and prostitute patronizing.

And Monday night, that’s unfortunately exactly what we got.

Over the course of two combined hours, viewers were treated to repeated and obvious jokes that largely felt flat and a night that, if anything, will be remembered as the moment of closure in the year-long train wreck that has been Sheen’s reemergence into the public eye.

The night started with the “Men” premiere, which opened with a funeral for Sheen’s character, Charlie Harper, where several genetically gifted (or surgically enhanced) women named the different sexually transmitted diseases that Harper blessed them with. After a steady and unfortunate dose of “Men” costar Jon Cryer and cameos from John Stamos and the actors who played the title characters on “Dharma and Greg,” we were introduced to Kutcher’s suicidal character, Walden Schmidt.

For the remainder of the episode, Kutcher awkwardly tried to find Schmidt’s place in the “Men” world as he bounced in between his character of Kelso from “That 70s Show” and that of a sensitive billionaire whose main source of comedy is a willingness to walk around the house naked.

That’s not to say that “Men” didn’t have the occasional bright spot, like one scene involving Angus T. Jones’ Jake, but when fart jokes are the highlight of your season premiere, you know it was a rough night.

Obvious jokes, however, are what we’ve come to expect from “Men,” which has largely skated by on Sheen-acting-Sheen. The roast of Sheen, however, had significantly higher expectations.

But while its presence on a cable channel at a later time slot gave it significantly more creative leeway, the roast also under-delivered with repetitive jokes about Sheen’s alcoholism and penchant for prostitutes as most roasters walked on eggshells, afraid to cross any lines that might send an apparently sobered (or at least therapeutically healed) Sheen off the deep end.

The biggest star on the roast’s dais, boxing legend Mike Tyson, constantly stepped on punchlines as he shouted at fellow roasters from his seat next to comedian Jeff Ross, who was dressed as Moammar Gadhafi.

Despite his attire going unexplained, Ross delivered the funniest monologue of the night (“You’re the black sheep of a family responsible for three ‘Mighty Ducks’ movies”), but for the most part, the best punch lines mocked people not even in attendance, such as Sheen’s brother Emilio Estevez and Michael J. Fox.

The show came to a close with Sheen championing himself as a real-life Stone Cold Steve Austin who told his boss what he could go do to himself, except for that part where, you know, he desperately tried to get back on “Men.”

And I can’t help but think things would have been better, for Sheen, Kutcher, “Men” and the viewers at home had he succeeded in that quest.

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