A special request leads me to a great episode of television.
Womanizer Charlie Harper (Charlie Sheen) begins dating a woman named Isabella (Jodi Lyn O’Keefe) who appears to be a satanist witch, though she never says it directly. When Charlie’s brother Alan (Jon Cryer) mocks her, he starts to find himself cursed. He tries to get Charlie to break up with her, but the sex is apparently amazing, so Charlie refuses. At a party, Isabella has her entire coven sleep with Charlie, who begins to look increasingly gaunt and drained the more he dates Isabella. He also begins to suspect that Isabella is using him to sire the Antichrist. Even Berta (The Late Conchata Ferrell), the Harper’s aggressive housekeeper, is afraid of her. When Isabella tries to get Alan’s son Jake (Angus T. Jones) to contact Satan, the two brothers finally try to confront her. However, she claims that Charlie has entered into a pact and that it will cost him his genitals if he reneges. Charlie is about to give in when his mother, Evelyn (Holland Taylor), dressed as the Wicked Witch of the West, arrives to force Alan, Charlie, and Jake to join her for a costume party. Evelyn apparently knows Isabella, who is absolutely terrified of her and flees. Evelyn then leaves for the party with the three men dressed as her flying monkeys.
Some of you may think this was an odd choice for a Halloween review, but I have two things to say to that: First, this episode is absolutely hilarious, particularly the quippy dialogue and Charlie Sheen’s reaction shots. Second, my dad loves this show and told me I had to do this episode or I was out of the will. I’m 99% sure he was kidding, but why take the chance?
I’ve often said that the fact that an episode was building up to one big punchline should never be considered a negative. One of the most-read reviews on my blog, “The $99,000 Answer,” is entirely dependent on building up a single, absolutely insane moment of hilarity. Unlike that episode, which always focused on the characters who were going to be the butt of the joke, this one actually plays up the joke in the background while we watch a completely different storyline. At one point, we see Evelyn calling Charlie for a favor, which he rejects. We also see Alan finishing a phone call where he tells his mother that he still isn’t on board with her “Wizard of Oz” theme, but not much more is made out of it. This means that Evelyn’s appearance as the Deus Ex Machina that saves the boys at the end of the episode isn’t coming out of nowhere, but also was left just ambiguous enough to be absolutely hilarious when it happens. The fact that Evelyn is the only person that is scary enough to not just threaten but absolutely terrify a supposedly real witch is just delicious.
The rest of the episode mostly just works because it’s Charlie and Alan, an average odd-couple pair, dealing with what might be, but is never confirmed to be, the supernatural. It’s like Abbott and Costello meeting Frankenstein, it’s just going to be funny to see the juxtaposition. Add in a bunch of dirty jokes and some fun dialogue about curses and various subcultures and the episode actually goes by pretty quickly because you’re laughing the whole time. The title is a reference to Jake’s attempt to talk to Satan which quickly bores him when he finds out he doesn’t get wishes.
Overall, this is a solid Halloween episode that really stands out in the show’s history. Even if you didn’t like Two and a Half Men, this one was pretty great.
If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time, Collection of TV Episodes, Collection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.
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