By Ken Tucker
April 30, 2012 at 12:00 PM EDT
Darren Michaels/CBS
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I suppose it was for a lark, a few laughs, Kathy Bates agreeing to the stunt-casting of herself playing the ghost of Charlie Harper in this week’s Two and a Half Men episode titled “Why We Gave Up Women.” Well, I hope she had some giggles on the set, because they certainly weren’t on the screen.

The premise was that Jon Cryer’s Alan was in the hospital, having suffered a mild heart attack and attached to a morphine drip. He dreams/hallucinates seeing Charlie Sheen’s dead Charlie. But since Sheen isn’t welcome on the Men set these days, the idea was hatched to go broad — wild broad, crazy broad — that’s the kind of comedy this show specializes in, right? Or as Bates-as-Charlie put it, “I’m in hell … in this old broad’s body … eternal damnation.” This is where I should add that Bates herself was just dandy, but giving an excellent performance in this context is primarily the mark of a very good-natured professional.

Lighting up a cigar at Alan’s hospital bedside, the ghost of Charlie insulted Alan for a while, advising him to man up and “grow a pair,” which prompted this choice Two and a Half Men punchline: “This body has a pair — they dangle under my hooha.” As if we didn’t hear it the first time or couldn’t wait to get more of it, Charlie/Bates also added a phrase about “the nut-sack under my hooha.”

I’d say I was surprised at how tawdry the humor was, but I’m not; my surprise is reserved for how popular this show remains every time I check back in on it. (For the record, co-star Ashton Kutcher figured in a subplot. No, his wasn’t any more amusing.)

This audience-pleaser concluded with Charlie/Bates exiting with a hot babe on each arm, looking them up and down and sighing, “And me with just a nut sack.”

Harry’s Law, all is forgiven.

Twitter: @kentucker

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