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CBS Brings Back Ashton Kutcher For 'Two And A Half Men'

Series could end up below last year's audience, despite huge premiere

All the publicity in the world about Charlie Sheen's exit and Ashton Kutcher's entrance couldn't keep a big audience for "Two and a Half Men," but it's still one of television's top-rated comedies ... and is now coming back for a 10th season.

All three actors -- Kutcher, Jon Cryer and Angus T. Jones -- will receive salary bumps, with Kutcher still making the most -- nearly $750,000 per episode.

The series has been a workhorse for CBS, and has helped boost the network's Monday lineup, which currently includes shows like "How I Met Your Mother," "2 Broke Girls" and "Mike & Molly." When it returned after a long break following the departure of Sheen, the show earned a 16.2 rating/23 share, according to Fast National overnight ratings from The Nielsen Co. It was the highest rating for a scripted show in almost a decade and propelled CBS to a week where it finished with an 8.8/14.

However, the numbers not only were nowhere near sustainable, but the show has actually dipped from the audience it had the year before. Since January, it has averaged a 7.3/11, well below the 8.6/13 it earned in its unplanned shortened season last year. Right now, the show is averaging an 8.7/13, which will at the worst, have it match last season's numbers. But that's including its extreme premiere.

Even worse for "Men" is what it's been doing in recent weeks. Since the end of February, it's averaged a 6.8 household rating, and is now behind "Big Bang Theory" as the top comedies on network television. Through the end of April, "Men" is ranked No. 6 overall with an 8.9/13 behind "NCIS" (11.8/18), "Dancing With the Stars" (10.4/16), "American Idol" (10.0/16), "NCIS: Los Angeles" (9.7/15) and "Big Bang Theory" (8.9/15).

Yet, both shows are still a good distance from its closest competition in half-hour comedies. ABC's "Modern Family" is averaging a 7.4/11, good for No. 11, while "Mike & Molly" on CBS is not far behind them with a 7.3/11, good for No. 13.

All four comedies have boasted audience boosts this year. "Big Bang Theory" has the biggest increase over last year of just under 19 percent. "Modern Family" is up nearly 11 percent over last year, while "Mike & Molly" is 8 percent higher.

Even with its huge premiere included, "Men" has the smallest increase, a little over 3 percent from last year. In fact, if you take its season premiere out the equation, "Men" would be averaging an 8.5/12, and experiencing an audience drop of just under 1 percent. And that's not including May numbers where it has averaged a 6.9/10.

When the show returns, it will be with new showrunners, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Don Reo and Jim Patterson will join creator Chuck Lorre as the heads of the series, replacing Lee Aronsohn.

"Men" becomes the 17th show renewed by CBS so far for next season. In fact, the only shows to not be on the list are "Unforgettable" (no decision yet), "Rob" (no decision yet), "CSI: Miami" (no decision yet), "CSI: New York" (no decision yet), "Rules of Engagement" (no decision yet), "A Gifted Man" (cancelled), "NYC 22" (no decision yet) and "How to be a Gentleman" (cancelled).

"Two and a Half Men" airs Mondays at 9 p.m. ET on CBS.

About the Author

Michael Hinman is the founder and editor-in-chief for Airlock Alpha and the entire GenreNexus. He owns Nexus Media Group Inc., the parent corporation of the GenreNexus and is a veteran print journalist. He lives in Tampa, Fla.
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