Tonight: Two and a Half Men, SIr John A. and Sheen crowd The Playboy Club

Okay, the Emmys are out of the way. Time to get serious about the new season.
At 9 p.m., everyone will be tuning in to the season premiere of Two and a Half Men (CTV and CBS). Even if you haven’t seen this show in years (like me). There have been a lot of rumours and a few leaks but the big question remains: how will executive producer and creator Chuck Lorre deal with Charlie Sheen’s departure? Will he murder the dude, both as a character and as a professional pain-in-the-ass? Will there be tiger blood all over the screen?
And what of Ashton Kutcher. He’ll need more than a Jesus look to save this show come February or March. He and Jon Cryer had less chemistry as Emmy Presenters last night than Rob Ford and Margaret Atwood at a library dedication.
It won’t matter tonight because the whole world will be watching. I’m surprised CBC hasn’t scheduled an important premiere opposite it.

Oh wait, they have: John A: Birth of a Country (CBC, 8 p.m.) stars Shawn Doyle (Endgame) as Canada’s first prime minister John A. Macdonald with Peter Outerbridge (ReGenesis) as fellow father of confederation George Brown.
Sing along with me: “Me men, men, men, menty men, men, men, men of confederation, MEEEEENNNN!”
Shouldn’t CBC had held John A until October and thrown it opposite PBS’s Prohibition? Counter programming? I’d drink to that.
Maybe putting Sir. John A. opposite Sheen-less Two and a Half Men is sorta the same thing. The TV-movie is produced by Bernie Zuckerman, written by Bruce M. Smith and directed by Jerry Ciccoritti and even they’ll be watching the CBS sitcom. Talk about driving the last spike through Canadian historical epics on television.

At 10 p.m., The Comedy Network has the Roast of Charlie Sheen. It should be filthy and hilarious. Talk about shooting fish in a pickled barrel. On his way into the taping last week, Sheen’s co-star on Spin City, Richard Kind, said roasting Sheen was like “throwing ice cubes at the Titanic.”
There are some other premieres tonight, including Two Broke Girls (CBS/City, 9:30 p.m.). The comedy is written and created by Whitney Cummings, who has her own new show premiering opposite this one on CTV. What the hell kind of cruel twist of fate is that?? Whitney also drops at 9:30 p.m. on CTV. Do you know how hard it is to get one show on the air?
2 Broke Girls stars Kat Dennings and Beth Behrs. Behrs plays the daughter of a disgraced billionaire who resorts to waitressing when her trust fund is frozen. Her table-mate (Dennings) is a cynical, street-smart wise-ass. They’re such an Odd Couple they decide to share an apartment and before you can say Laverne & Shirley hilarity ensues.
By the way, that is Garrett Morris as the crazy old man in the restaurant. I interviewed the original “Not Ready for Prim Time Player” from Saturday Night Live at press tour in August and as soon as I get the transcription back from planet “Reefer” I’ll share it here.

Whitney (NBC/CTV, 9:30 p.m.) stars Cummings as a modern girl who never wants to marry her boyfriend (Chris D’Elia). Both are standup comedians, and D’Elia, to my mind anyway, makes the smoother transition to sitcom actor in the uneven pilot. Hey, Roseanne never needed to act to star in one of the most successful TV comedies ever.
A warning about content: both these sitcoms, like a few other new comedies this season, are loaded with sexual innuendo and situations. Now you’re interested in them, right? Seriously, there are so many sex jokes Californication is suing them both for intellectual property theft. Sitcoms this year have been whipped into a frothy cable frenzy. I thought it was over the top, but when I mentioned this to my 18-year-old son, he suggested I go take a nap and stop letting the turn indicator blink for hours when I’m allowed out driving.

Benanti: maintain eye contact mister

Speaking of sex, the other new show tonight at 10 (opposite the Sheen clubbing) is The Playboy Club (NBC/City). I was on the set of this in Chicago over the weekend and the cast has one ring-a-ding-ding of a rat pack playpen. Set in the early ’60s, the series stars Eddie Cibrian (Third Watch) as the smoothie who manages the notorious Chicago key club. He also happens to be a lawyer. Handy!
Leah Renee, from Toronto’s west end, is among the Bunnys. The actresses all say they’re playing empowered career women. Laura Benanti, who plays the clubs 30-ish den mother (too old for ears and tails), can overpower me anytime, please. I hope she understood I was just looking down to make sure the light was on on my digital recorder.
Cibrian says he’d much rather be playing a cowboy in a western than stuck with these fabulous women and wearing these fabulous suits. Uh huh. Music plays a major role in the series, with top acts of the day being recreated by new artists. You’ll see pseudo Ike and Tina Turner in tonight’s pilot. Frank, Sammy, Dean, all coming up later in the season, pal.
If the voice of the narrator sounds familiar, it belongs to 85-year-old Playboy founder Hugh Hefner. He held a screening of the pilot at the Playboy mansion earlier this summer and the cast got to meet the man; he wore the satin jammies, ‘natch. He was probably still sore at TV critics for bringing the coolness level at the mansion way down when we visited in August.
The pilot has a whole sub plot about the mob and a murder and really it is a prime time soap procedural with tails. If you look closely, you can see Charlie Sheen lurking in the background. See–the whole night ties together!

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