UPDATE: The Charlie Sheen Mess: The End of ‘Two and a Half Men’?

Charlie Sheen of 'Two and a Half Men' (Photo: CBS)

Charlie Sheen of 'Two and a Half Men' (Photo: CBS)

Is it good-bye, Charlie?

Charlie Sheen continued staging his one-man circus Friday with another one of his “messages” to the world as the TV industry wondered whether “Two and a Half Men” will ever return from its “suspension,” or will CBS figure out a way to continue the show without Charlie.

Sheen’s newest missive was reportedly a text message sent to ABC’s “Good Morning America” in which he vowed to actually show up at work as previously scheduled on Tuesday.

But by Friday afternoon, Sheen launched another attack on Pat O’Brien’s radio show “Loose Cannons” (how appropriate), saying the “Two and a Half Men” set has been “a toxic environment for eight years.”

Sheen also hinted he may not return for a ninth season, should CBS choose to do one: “If they want to roll back to season nine, I gave them my word I would do that but not with the turds that are currently in place. It’s impossible … it would go bad quickly,” Sheen said.

The “turds” he’s referring to are producers Chuck Lorre and Lee Aronsohn, who are, according to Sheen, “a couple of AA Nazis and blunt hypocrites” that are “getting up in my grill, telling me how to live my personal life.”

“We are at war,” Sheen declared. “Defeat is not an option … They picked a fight with the wrong guy.” He also warned fans, “It’s about to get really gnarly.”

CBS Pulls the Plug on “Two and a Half Men” for the Season

His workplace, up until Thursday evening, was the Warner Brothers studio where they used to produce “Two and a Half Men” before WB and CBS made the decision jointly to shut down production indefinitely (or at least for this season) because of Charlie and his antics.

So, why he thinks he should show up at work anyway on Tuesday morning is anybody’s guess. Probably, perhaps somewhere deep in the recesses of his addled brain, Charlie believes that if he goes to work – arriving on time and sober like he says he usually does – then he can’t be accused of failing to fulfill the terms of his contract.

Sheen’s Disturbing “Open Letter” to His Boss

Well, without access to that contract, we can’t tell what he has fulfilled or what he has breached, if anything. But it should go without saying that by now Sheen has breached the general standards of decency and behavior that most of us live by – such as not attacking your bosses on radio shows and, more to the point, making derogatory statements about them, their loved ones and their religion. And, of course, there’s the safety issue. Embedded in Sheen’s statements over the last few days are intimations of violence, as when he described his “violent” hatred of executive producer Chuck Lorre and apparently challenged Lorre to a fistfight.

Sheen Goes on Shocking Radio Rampage

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So what was CBS supposed to do? What it came down to was this: The network and WB chose keeping Lorre happy over Sheen. Why? Because Lorre makes two other sitcoms for them – “The Big Bang Theory” and “Mike & Molly.” He’s the moneymaker behind “Two and a Half Men” too, so it was good-bye Charlie.

Now CBS and Lorre face a dilemma: Can they remake “Two and a Half Men” in advance of its ninth season next fall in such a way that it will continue as the top-rated comedy on network TV? Or, was the show so dependent on Sheen that, without him, the series is essentially toast and should be discontinued before the companies invest millions of dollars in a lost cause?

With those questions in mind, we present the arguments FOR and AGAINST:

The argument for continuing “Two and a Half Men”: Hey, what about Jon Cryer? In all the commotion about Charlie Sheen, it is too often assumed that he somehow carried the whole show. Well, that’s not the case. Cryer’s great in it, and so is the supporting cast, most notably Holland Taylor as the mother of the two men. And as Charlie’s rants become more unglued everyday, support for him among the “Two and a Half Men” audience base could be eroding, according to a story Friday at The Hollywood Reporter. And that means some viewers might be amenable to a “Two and a Half Men” reboot that doesn’t include Sheen. The question for Lorre and his team is really a creative one: Can they come up with a new scenario for the show that makes sense for the show and its characters without seeming like such a bald contrivance that viewers won’t buy it?

The argument for discontinuing “Two and a Half Men”: See the last sentence of the argument for. This is the crux of the dilemma. What should they do? Should they cast some new actor, in some sort of role similar to Charlie’s? Maybe he’s a third brother – another uncle to Jake (Angus T. Jones) – who we haven’t met until now. That’s the most logical way to extend the show, but the question will remain: Will viewers accept it? And here’s an even riskier scenario: That they simply cast someone new in the same role. It hasn’t been tried in decades (not since the two Darrins on “Bewitched” and, to a lesser extent, the youngest boy on “The Partridge Family” (and maybe a few other times in TV history).

Still, these scenarios are so difficult to pull off that they may be left with no choice but to just say bye-bye to the whole thing.

Could “Two and a Half Men” Be Canceled for Good?

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The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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