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Charlie Sheen's one-man (with porn stars) rebellion against sanity apparently is over – and as he gets back on track this week with his new FX show “Anger Management,” he's hardly traveling alone.
The star-crossed actor has gone from human train wreck to leading what we'll call the Attack of the Bad (and Furry) Boys – a comedy crazy train filled with semi-reformed wild men and semi-cuddly beasts.
Comic Russell Brand, who has successfully battled his own demons while managing to keep his bad-boy status intact, joins Sheen in FX’s new lineup Thursday with a weekly late-night talk show, “Brand X.” Sheen's "tiger blood" also seems to infuse canines and bears. "Wilfred," the alternately disturbing and hilarious man-as-dog comedy, is back for a second season on FX. And "Family Guy" creator Seth MacFarlane co-wrote, directed and provides the title character’s voice in the upcoming "Ted" – the R-rated tale of a profane, bawdy teddy bear who is preventing his thirty-something owner from growing up.
The various efforts offer a chance for temporary regression for the audiences, which we're guessing will be guy-heavy. The timing, at the beginning of the summer, seems optimal for the masses to kick back and enjoy some escapist comic irreverence.
There's something embarrassingly alluring about the opportunity to live vicariously through a leering, bong-puffing teddy bear – and even through Sheen, now that he's made the rocky journey from pathetic to, hopefully, wickedly funny again. With “Anger Management,” in which the actor plays a “non-traditional therapist” based on the Jack Nicholson character from the 2003 movie, Sheen is in on the joke, as he was in the pleasingly silly "Hot Shots!" and “Major League” flicks.
Perhaps the greatest appeal of these bad boys (and animals) is that they ultimately are safe dates (even if Wilfred, his neighbor Ryan’s furry, Australian Id, might have cost his human best friend his sanity). They’re at least safe bets for some summertime laughs. As we get ready to board Sheen’s new crazy train, check out a preview of “Ted,” which hits theaters Friday:
Hester is founding director of the award-winning, multi-media NYCity News Service at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is the former City Editor of the New York Daily News, where he started as a reporter in 1992. Follow him on Twitter.