Ed Driscoll

'Charlie Pulls a Mel'

Kyle Smith on Charlie Sheen’s Gibsonesque self-immolation:

And Charlie Sheen’s career is ending in five, four, three….claiming he has “magic and poetry” in his fingertips (and, er, anti-Semitism), Charlie Sheen self-immolates. Couldn’t have happened to a sweeter guy.

Question: will anyone miss him? Related question: how long will it take for CBS to simply hire someone else to fill in la Darren II on “Bewitched” — and go on as if nothing happened? CBS could even slip in a few in-jokes. Jon Cryer: “My, you look a little bit….different.” Sheen substitute: “Me? Yeah, my skin is clearing up since I decided to start gargling with Listerine instead of Jack Daniel’s.” (Guffaws from studio audience.)

Sheen would know — his decade on Two and a Half Men was preceded by establishing his sit-com chops by first replacing the beloved Michael J. Fox on Spin City in 2000, which ran for two more seasons with Sheen as that show’s New Darren. And Law & Order ran for another 15 years or so when Sam Waterston replaced Michael Moriarty when he walked off the show. Neither show creatively benefited from these changes, but the network and studio gravy train was allowed to continue uninterrupted.

While he was coaching the Dallas Cowboys, Bill Parcells once described pro football as a “replacement business” to his players, meaning everyone becomes too old or too crazy to perform in his function and ultimately gets replaced on the team. (See also, Parcells and his successor at the Cowboys, Wade Phillips.) The same is true in episodic television, particularly these days when there’s a risk of viewers leaving a network permanently for the Interwebs when a beloved show is canceled, hence formula shows like Two and a Half Men, The Simpsons and Law & Order running waaaay past the expiration on their freshness dating, and in the case of Law & Order, CSI and NCIS all of the recombinant spin-offs.

Related: Roger L. Simon responds, “I knew Emilio Estevez and you, sir, are no Emilio Estevez!”