Archive for Monday, June 13, 2011

Kutcher should set a new tone on ‘Men’

June 13, 2011


Some weeks back, CBS announced to some fanfare that Ashton Kutcher would join the cast of "Two and a Half Men" (8 p.m., CBS) to fill the void left by Charlie Sheen's departure. It was also reported that "Men" had also considered Hugh Grant for that part.

Given those two auditions, you have to conclude that the show will return but it won't be "Two and a Half Men." Putting aside Charlie Sheen's real-life antics, the character he played was a gone-to-seed playboy, an aging womanizer. His appeal, both to viewers and to the occasional female characters on the show, was his long-in-the-tooth phobia to commitment. While the classic depiction of the bachelor often betrays a lonely man secretly pining for family, Charlie Harper has all the family he can stand, including a mother (Holland Taylor) straight out of Caligula's court.

So if Charlie set the tone, what can his replacement do to top him? It should be noted that Both Kutcher and Hugh Grant have made a living appearing in light romantic comedies as shaggy-but-lovable boy/men that women ensnare and domesticate by the third act. That's not the kind of comedy we've seen on "Two and a Half Men.”

• "A Matter of Taste: Serving Up Paul Liebrandt" (8 p.m., HBO) profiles a firebrand British-born chef and critical darling who has set out to reinvent the way ingredients are prepared, combined and eaten.

At age 24, he was the youngest chef to receive three stars from The New York Times and gained renown for his hypermodern dishes including "espuma of calf brains and foie gras" and "beer and truffle soup."

In one early scene, a Liebrandt fan compares his reinvention of cuisine to 20th-century 12-tone composers, whose challenging orchestral works were far more admired than enjoyed. At that moment, I couldn't help thinking back to Tom Wolfe's book "The Painted Word," a caustic glance at a circle of painters who made art for critics and critics alone.

• Speaking of the classics, "Unsung" (9 p.m., TV One) looks back at professional singers and groups who may not have received the attention and acclaim they deserved. Tonight the biography series looks back at The Spinners, whose hits include "I'll be Around" and "Could it be I'm Falling in Love."

• Gabrielle Anwar ("Burn Notice") stars in the made-for-cable potboiler "Carnal Innocence" (7 p.m., Lifetime Movie Channel). She's the fetching new neighbor who has returned to the town of Innocence, Miss., where they linger for long lunches at the Chat 'n' Chew while lusting for each other and trying to figure out the serial killer in their midst. Look for Oscar winner Shirley Jones as a distraction from the younger cast members, whose command of the local accent seems shaky at best.

Tonight's other highlights

• Johnny, his genius twin sisters and his genetically modified dog Dukey return with new episodes of "Johnny Test" (6 p.m., Cartoon Network).

• Back-to-back helpings of "MasterChef" (7 p.m. and 8 p.m. Fox).

• Game 6 of the NHL Stanley Cup Final (7 p.m., NBC). 

• A waitress with perfect memory falls ill on "House" (8 p.m., Fox).

• A key witness needs protection on "Hawaii Five-O" (9 p.m., CBS).


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