Charlie Sheen: Hollywood's Mr Angry is back on a winning streak

Charlie Sheen's soulless new sitcom will still be a big hit, predicts Sarah Hughes

For a brief period last summer, Charlie Sheen was inescapable. If you turned on your television or picked up a magazine, there he was ranting about "winning" in a series of increasingly unhinged interviews, losing his staring role in sitcom Two and a Half Men and crossing the US to give his side of the sacking in the Violent Torpedo of Truth/Defeat Is Not an Option tour.

It was such a spectacular public meltdown that few observers would have been surprised if the next time we heard of him it was in conjunction with either rehab or death. But behind the gold-tooth grin and haggard cheeks lurks the soul of a survivor and so it is that Charlie Sheen returns to US television this Thursday not as a Hollywood statistic but as the star of a new show.

Anger Management, a new sitcom for cable channel FX (very) loosely based on the 2003 Adam Sandler/Jack Nicholson movie of the same name, stars Sheen as a former baseball player-turned-therapist and is among the most anticipated new shows of the US summer season. A host of eager advertisers (predominately from the car and booze industries) have signed up to air ads during the breaks and the comedy has been sold everywhere from Germany to Australia (no British channel has yet committed, although talks are believed to be ongoing).

If the new comedy hits an undisclosed ratings threshold over the course of its 10 episodes then FX has committed to a further 90 episodes, guaranteeing a lucrative syndication deal. And the channel is so confident of success that it has asked the writing staff to stark work on season two before an episode has aired.

So is it actually any good? The answer is no, not really but it's probably going to be a huge hit regardless. For Anger Management is an old-fashioned sitcom by numbers. It features Sheen doing his Sheen-shtick complete with manic grin and wandering eyes. There are jokes about his character fancying young women. Jokes about male and female body parts. Riffs on Sheen's predilection for booze and brawls. It's supremely slick, entirely soulless and just watching it makes you feel a little bit dirty inside.

For there's something uncomfortable about watching the manic Sheen, now considerably more hollow of cheek than he was in his Two and a Half Men heyday, mugging for the camera with the desperation of the damned. Yes, he can still deliver a punchline and muster a bit of the old wild boy charm but it's hard not to see the Sheen phenomenon as little more than a celebration of addiction fuelled by the actor's oft-stated desire to keep the big bucks rolling in.

It's also a strange fit for cable television. It's easy to see this tame, tepid sitcom on a channel such as CBS, home of Sheen's previous hit Two and a Half Men, less clear to see where it fits alongside edgy, boundary-pushing shows such as Louie, Archer, Wilfred and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

Not that FX will care. It wants Sheen to drive a new audience to their channel, and bring network numbers to a cable show. When it signed him it was for his public persona as much as his ability to sell an over-ripe punchline. And in that sense Sheen delivers. As the knowing promos for Anger Management have it "Everyone deserves a 24th chance". Sheen has survived cocaine addiction, brothel scandals and being replaced in movies by Tom Cruise – at this stage in the game he just has to stand upright to be considered a success.

Anger Management might be uninspired, dated and out-of-place but it will draw an audience regardless. That's winning in Sheen's terms, quality of product be damned.

Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne with his Screen Actors Guild award for Best Actor

film
Arts and Entertainment
Rowan Atkinson is bringing out Mr Bean for Comic Relief

TV
Arts and Entertainment

Theatre

Arts and Entertainment
V&A museum in London

Art Piece taken off website amid 'severe security alert'

Arts and Entertainment
Over their 20 years, the band has built a community of dedicated followers the world over
music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Reese Witherspoon starring in 'Wild'

It's hard not to warm to Reese Witherspoon's heroismfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Word up: Robbie Coltrane as dictionary guru Doctor Johnson in the classic sitcom Blackadder the Third
books

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Hacked off: Maisie Williams in ‘Cyberbully’

Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challenge

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything and Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game are both nominated at the Bafta Film Awards
Arts and Entertainment

Academy criticised after no non-white actors nominated

Arts and Entertainment
Damian Lewis shooting a scene as Henry VIII in Wolf Hall
TV

Arts and Entertainment
A history of violence: ‘Angry, White and Proud’ looked at the rise of far-right groups

tv

An expose of hooliganism masquerading as an ideological battle

Arts and Entertainment

art

Lee Hadwin can't draw when he's awake, but by night he's an artist

Arts and Entertainment

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Michael Keaton in the 1998 Beetlejuice original

film

Arts and Entertainment

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Michael Kitchen plays Christopher Foyle in ITV's 'Foyle's War'

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Downton Abbey star Joanne Froggatt will be starring in Dominic Savage's new BBC drama The Secrets

Arts and Entertainment
Vividly drawn: Timothy Spall in Mike Leigh’s ‘Mr Turner’
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

    Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

    One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
    The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

    The enemy within

    People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
    Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

    Autumn/winter menswear 2015

    The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    Army general planning to come out
    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
    Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

    Growing mussels

    Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project