FFfffffttttzzz ... Or, as opposed to the sound of air exiting a balloon in the closing seconds of "Two and a Half Men"... was that the sound of a piano crashing down on the hopes and dreams of 10 million fans?
Small hopes and dreams -- sure. But a hope is a hope and a dream is a dream.
In this instance, those would have been the return of Charlie Sheen to the show he helped turn into a monster, until he turned into one himself four years ago.
That return -- teased remorselessly by creator Chuck Lorre and even Sheen himself -- seemed a foregone conclusion for months, or certainly as recently as a month ago.
The series finale was even conspicuously designed, written and created for that triumphant return. It was to be the full circle of sitcom life thing -- the "what goes around comes around" thing -- when all is forgiven and Sheen's insane, sad, self-destructive behavior four years ago which led to his own personal cancellation on "Men" was finally put behind everyone, fans especially.
Yeah, THAT thing.
And this WAS supposed to be for fans, right? Instead, no Charlie. No redemption. Arguably, even no real wrap, Hey, maybe that wasn't Charlie Harper under the piano, and he'll return in the CBS TV "reunion" movie, circa 2022: "Is Charlie Dead?" The "Men" Reunion!"
At least Angus T. Jones came back -- and he had had his own meltdown a few years ago, albeit a much quieter one.
Did all this make Thursday's wrap after a dozen seasons a "disappointment?" Even with a surprisingly amusing Arnold Schwarzenegger, or good,sharp, funny Christian Slater and John Stamos cameos?
Even with that nutty animated sequence, revealing the full story of Charlie's fate back in France?
Even with Lorre turning to the camera in the closing seconds -- a Mephistophelian glint in his eye -- saying: "Winning...?"
Yes, even with all that.
Lorre himself acknowledged as much in his very last vanity card, which appeared seconds later, explaining Sheen's absence:
“I know a lot of you might be disappointed that you didn’t get to see Charlie Sheen in tonight’s finale. For the record, he was offered a role. Our idea was to have him walk up to the front door in the last scene, ring the doorbell, then turn, look directly into the camera and go off on a maniacal rant about the dangers of drug abuse. He would then explain that these dangers only applied to average people. That he was far from average. He was a ninja warrior from Mars. He was invincible. And then we would drop a piano on him. We thought it was funny. He didn’t. Instead, he wanted us to write a heartwarming scene that would set up his return to prime-time TV in a new sitcom called 'The Harpers' starring him and Jon Cryer. We thought that was funny, too.”
But Chuck ... if you thought that was funny, too, then why not go with it?
In fact, in the cold light of dawn, it appears as if what you really insisted upon was full creative control right up until the end. Darned if YOU were going to give Sheen the last joke in the show you created all those years ago.
Without hearing Sheen's side of this -- and I imagine a blistering tweet will appear any second -- I think we all have to conclude that Sheen is at fault, too. He needed to stand down, give Lorre the last word here. It was Lorre's show after all. And it was Sheen's virulent tiger-blood meltdown that created the circumstance in the first place. But Sheen is not one apparently to give anyone the last word.
Too bad, really. It would have been a memorable series finale indeed.
This one was still memorable.
But ultimately, not for the right reason.