Credit: Two and a Half Men: Greg Gayne/Warner Bros.

To celebrate the wretched return of National TV-Turnoff Week, I’m watching one show every night that I’d normally avoid like the plague. Monday’s winner: CBS’ hit sitcom Two and a Half Men. Now, mind you, I’ve never been particularly enticed by the previews for this series, but I approached the half-hour with an open mind; the same cannot be said, however, for my reluctant viewing partner (VP), who kvetched and stamped his feet till I promised to serve Oatmeal Cookie Tasti D-Lite for dessert. Anyhow, armed with notepad, pen, and low-cal frozen deliciousness, I tabulated our respective responses to an episode focusing on the efforts of Alan (Jon Cryer) to win back ditzy girlfriend Kandi (April Bowlby), whose mother Mandi (Gail O’Grady) happened to be dating Alan’s brother Charlie (Charlie Sheen). (You still with me?)

The only thing that surprised me more than the aggressiveness of the laugh-track (which seemed to kick in every 15-20 seconds — whether or not there was a punch line to accompany it) was the fact that the FCC hasn’t gone medieval on TAAHM. (I kid you not: One running joke revolved around several characters having attended a human-donkey sex show). On that note, here’s the evening’s scorecard:

Moments of Genuine Laughter*:
Me 13; Viewing Partner 6

Groans/Sarcastic comments**:
Me 4; VP 4

Laugh-track met with stony silence***:
Me 88; VP 95

*thanks mostly to supporting player Conchata Ferrell — she’s comic gold!
**one instance prompted by a sighting of Hercules‘ Kevin Sorbo
***nope, I’m not joking; I actually counted

Moving right along, tonight I’m considering checking out one of these two shows: CBS’ new drama The Unit or NBC’s new sitcom (it’s a sitcom, yes?) Teachers. PopWatchers have till 7 p.m. Eastern to weigh in on which show I’ll blog about tomorrow. Go ahead, treat me like your puppet.