Bad taste can make good TV

Sunday December 9, 2012


Child actors have always been a problem for me in that so few of them have any real talent in expressing what it feels like to be a child. There have been a few exceptions but most of the performances I have seen in theater, movies and television have been like the scrape of fingernails across the chalk board.

One of my exceptions over the past decade has been an actor named Angus T. Jones, who has played the son of Jon Cryer and nephew of Charlie Sheen in the TV mega-hit series, "Two and Half Men." To me the young man's timing and facial expressions have been nigh perfect even when he was only 11 years old. He was supposed to be dumb as a pepper, and he was, and it took fine acting for him to pull it off each and every time.

The hubbub over his recent depiction of the show as more attuned to Sodom and Gomorrah and not worthy of being seen by decent, hard-working viewers came as a shock to both public and the producers of the show. His statement to the world: "Please stop watching. Please stop filling your head with filth, please. It's bad news. A lot of people don't like to think about what the enemy is."

It seems that the actor, now in his 19th year (Where has time gone?), met up with a preacher man who showed him the error of his ways and made a 15-minute video which somehow (wink, wink) got on You Tube. Family and friends are worried that the young man might "donate" his fortune to that particular church.

We say fortune because Jones started his "Men" career at $15,000 an episode and his most recent contract pays him $350,000 an episode. Experts believe Jones has piled up something like $25 million over the years.

I acknowledge that "Two and a Half Men" is a filthy show with situations and dialogue that make you cringe at least three times a program. But the writing is really funny, the actors are beautifully suited to their characters and the direction is crisp. It is one of the highest-rated shows on television and I watch it faithfully every week, cringes and all.

Surprisingly, Charlie Sheen, the actor who was perfect for the show and was booted off when he was making $1.2 million per episode, came to Jones' defense and said he was welcome to come on his new show at any time.

While we are on the subject of bad taste, two other television series come to mind, "2 Broke Girls" and "Mike and Molly." I do not watch "2 Broke Girls" because the two lead actresses can only be described as inept when they utter a risky line or attempt to increase their cleavage. I was amazed when it was renewed for a second year. It comes very close to amateurish in all its aspects and fake-slummy is something that can't be synthesized.

As far as "Mike and Molly" goes, I enjoy certain aspects of this series but consider it unworthy of regular viewership. The two main characters are really fat, not pleasingly chubby, and their strenuous efforts to simulate intimacy are somewhat embarrassing. We fat viewers should protest their cruelty. What pleasure the series sometimes gives me comes from actors Swoosie Kurtz, Katy Mixon, Louis Mostillo, Cleo King and Rondi Reed. They make the filth in the scripts bearable.

Television is a part of my regular lifestyle. Every night from 8 to 11 p.m. I sit in front of the big screen and watch what used to be called LOT -- least objectionable television. My mind and eyes are weary from the tasks that take up the daylight hours and television is fairly painless most of the time.

It also has PBS, which Mitt Romney was going to take away from us. Let's hear it for democracy.

Milton Bass is a regular Eagle


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