The show’s producers barely changed gears in casting Ashton Kutcher. He may not have the lounge lizard confidence or rakish charm of Charlie Harper, but the writers have managed to create a socially awkward character who – very conveniently – happens to be an accidental womanizer.
Like Sheen’s Harper, Kutcher’s Walden Schmidt isn’t too far off from his public persona. But instead of a drug-using, prostitute procuring wild man, Kutcher plays a kooky dweeb with a romantic heart.
Schmidt may be a nerd with a penchant for nudity and inappropriate hugs – but it hardly matters because, as he explains, is “tall, good-looking and smart”– not to mention exceptionally well-endowed. And because of a well-timed sale of an obscure Internet site to Microsoft, happens to be worth $1.3 billion.
But of course, in order to welcome Schmidt, the writers needed to off Charlie Sheen’s character.
The show opened with Charlie Harper’s funeral -- his sudden demise was courtesy of an “accident” on a Paris subway platform.
“He didn’t suffer,” sniffled his fiancee. “His body just exploded like a balloon full of meat.”
Predictably, no one at the funeral home was too upset to see Harper go. There were jokes from “mourners” about illicit drugs, restraining orders and multiple STIs.
Harper was cremated, all the better for the inevitable spilled ashes joke, and by the second commercial break, was reduced to the contents of a Dust Buster and forgotten.
Charlie Harper may be dead and gone, but Kutcher’s Schmidt immediately made himself right at home in the Harper’s Malibu beach house -- literally.
Following a half-hearted suicide attempt after getting the brush-off from his high school sweetheart, Schmidt appears on the Harper’s porch. Jon Cryer’s urn-clutching Alan Harper, naturally, is quite surprised.
After a visit to a local watering hole to bond with Harper, Schmidt manages, with exceptionally little effort, to have a threesome with two barflies in Charlie’s old bedroom.
With things back to normal in the Harper household, the episode ended with a “to be continued...” tease. With Kutcher loosely playing himself as a savant ladies’ man, it’s likely that Charlie Harper --or Sheen -- won’t be missed.