Two of TV’s most popular sitcoms “The Office,” and “Two and a Half Men” are approaching a transitional period. “The Office” is set to return for at least one more season without its star Steve Carell, and the future is uncertain for “Two and a Half Men” due to the recent issues with Charlie Sheen that have dominated entertainment headlines. The situations leading to these changes are vastly different. Carell is leaving peacefully to pursue other projects, while Sheen appears to be at war with his “Two and a Half Men” bosses. There are, however, certain parallels between the two. Both Sheen and Carell are the leading men in ensemble shows that have been huge ratings winners for their respective networks. Additionally, there is a great amount of speculation and questioning about the future of these series.
There is no question that “The Office” will continue on, but “Two and a Half Men” is up in the air. Recent sound bites from Charlie Sheen sound like the nail in the “Two and a Half Men” coffin. When the star of a show starts referring to the producer as a “maggot” and discussing lawsuits in Television and radio interviews it’s a pretty good indication that things will not be business as usual. The question is whether the show could continue without Sheen. If NBC is willing to give a “Michael Scott” free office a try, then it’s likely that CBS would consider “men” with no Charlie.
Networks have a long history of playing musical stars to keep a show on the air. The late 80s/early 90s “Head of the Class” saw Howard Hesseman replaced by Billy Connolly for its last season; 1997s “Men Behaving Badly” replaced Ron Eldard and Justine Bateman after a behind the scenes dispute; and the producers of “8 Simple Rules For Dating My Teenage Daughter” brought in David Spade and James Garner to fill John Ritter’s spot in 2003.
Generally these changes to the cast of successful shows are met with skepticism and mark the nearing end of a series, but What about “The Office” and “Two and a Half Men”? “The Office” will lose a lot of its charm when Carell exits, but it has a strong cast of characters that can likely carry the series if the writers can work around Carell’s absence. As far as “Two and a Half Men” the writers are presented with a bigger challenge as the series is so closely tied to Charlie Sheen’s character.
It’s far too early to speculate on what a revamped “men” might look like, but there has been speculation that Will Ferrell may step into “The Office” to takeover for Michael Scott after Carell departs. The word from the cast and crew is that Ferrell will only be joining the cast for a four-episode arc at the end of the season and will not be taking control at Dunder Mifflin. We can’t be sure that a short guest spot couldn’t turn into more, but at this point it looks like Carell will be gone, and Ferrell will only be around for a short time leaving a big question mark as to who will fill Michael Scott’s shoes. Regardless of what happens to these shows in the future, both Sheen and Carell have provided many hours of entertainment over the last several years and hopefully will enjoy continued success in their respective projects.
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