Myriad reports out this morning say that CBS will retool its hit Two and a Half Men by replacing ousted cautionary tale Charlie Sheen with Ashton Kutcher. (Kutcher teased toward a confirmation on his Twitter feed.) One almost wonders whether the network simply decided to twist the knife in Sheen by picking someone, anyone, with more followers on Twitter than him, and Justin Bieber was unavailable.
Seriously, I’m not going to handicap the chances of this working, because it has less to do with the star than with how well the show is adapted to fit him. But offhand, Kutcher seems to be at least in the ballpark of the right kind of star for the job.
First of all, Kutcher has a personality and a notoriety outside the roles he plays, which–well before his drawn-out implosion–Sheen did too when he was cast in the first place. That is, Men is a show that drew on the fact that viewers had a sense of Sheen outside the show, and saw him as playing a version of himself.
Kutcher is not the same person as Sheen, of course, so part of the challenge will be fitting him into the dynamic of the show—I’m assuming that Jon Cryer will not suddenly become alpha dog on set—with a character who’s crafted to his persona, which is more rascal than rake. (My concern here is that, if reports are true that Hugh Grant was considered as well, Chuck Lorre and company don’t really know what they’re going to do yet, since I can’t imagine they’d have retooled the show the same way around him.)
If they fit Kutcher with the right character, though, there’s no reason the show can’t do well enough for the purposes of CBS and Warner (the studio, by the way, is TIME’s sister company). At least if you assume as I do that those purposes are getting a couple more years out of a long-in-the-tooth sitcom, not stretching it out to the longevity of The Simpsons. Long before Kutcher was a ubiquitous tabloid fixture / Demi husband / celebpreneur, he was a fine sitcom actor on That ’70s Show. If Men doesn’t take him outside his comfort zone—and I can’t see why it would—he could bring enough interest to buy CBS time to develop new comedy hits.
Now, I don’t know whether the move is a step up or down from Kutcher, who had once been moving toward a movie career, but that’s between him and his people. Two and a Half Men fans, do you like the move?