If the road to greatness for an actor is a year-long, often embarrassing meltdown, then you can count on a whole bunch of actors jumping on Charlie Sheen's crazy train.
Why? Charlie is emerging from his public meltdown, including being fired from CBS's Two and a Half Men and starring in a horrific comedy tour, by starring in Anger Management, which, judging by its first two episodes (FX, June 28 at 9pm), is an outstanding sitcom that may just be TV's next great comedy.
In the show, Charlie is Charlie Goodson, a therapist whose professional baseball career ended when he broke his knee, in a fit of anger, by trying to break a bat on it. This Charlie, who makes light of a possible real-life rage toward Two and a Half Men creator Chuck Lorre, is helping his patients to overcome their anger issues.
But the show isn't so much focused on its premise as it is a vehicle for Charlie and his mostly spot-on co-stars to showcase their talents.
And Charlie, it turns out, is really funny.
In Anger Management's first episode, Charlie is having a friends-with-benefits affair with Kate (Selma Blair). She's a therapist. Charlie heads back to her couch to continue his therapy. They have sex, often.
Funnier, though, is Anger Management's scenes in Charlie's group therapy sessions. Barry Corbin stands out as Ed, a politically incorrect curmudgeon who says "queer" a lot in the rudest, funniest possible manner.
Also funnier is Charlie hanging out with his ex-wife Jennifer (Shawnee Smith - perfect in the role) and his teenage daughter Sam (Daniela Bobadilla).
Which is to say the Selma Blair-best friend stuff is less funny. In fact, while she and Charlie are supposed to be having a super-hot sexual relationship, Selma kinda cringes (it seems) every time Charlie touches her. But, that's a quibble.
The show's flaws are minor and you'll find yourself laughing so much that all will be forgiven.
For the most part, the entire cast works well together. Anger Management is a new show but, somehow, it has the feel of a sitcom that's hitting its stride two or three seasons in. The laughs are easy and the actors are at ease, and great.
That includes Brett Butler (Grace Under Fire) in the small role of Brett, a bartender and one of Charlie's de facto therapists. Brett has pretty much vanished since Grace ended in 1998 and, until Anger, you'd never know that you missed her so much. Hopefully, she'll be in every episode.
In Anger Management's second episode, Kerri Kenney (Reno 911) guest stars as a slumpbuster - a not-so-pretty woman who baseball players sleep with to break a slump. It turns out, Kerri's character has spent years longing to reunite with Charlie, not sure if she was his slumpbuster or not.
That second episode is equally funny to the first and surprisingly touching.
If Anger Management keeps this up, it's a sure bet to go on for years. Literally, it's a sure bet. In a unique deal, FX (and TV networks around the world) will pick up 100 episodes of the show if the first 10 pull decent ratings. They will. Anger Management is one of TV's best comedies.