"Two and a Half Men" and "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" are unexpectedly crossing paths.
In a television first, the writers of both CBS shows have teamed up to write scripts for each other's shows in two crossover episodes, allowing their characters to go in directions they have never gone in before.
In tonight's "Two and a Half Men" episode called "Fish in a Drawer," a CSI team investigates a mysterious death at Charlie's house where a body is found on his bed.
Actor Robert Wagner ("Hart to Hart") returns as Teddy, Evelyn's new husband, and Jenny McCarthy ("Scary Movie 3") returns as Courtney, his devious daughter. CSI's George Eads makes a cameo appearance as well.
"You'll see on Monday night, that there is a death on the show, a suspicious murder, possibly and here's an investigation that seeks the culprit," Chuck Lorre, creator and executive producer of "Two and a Half Men" told The ShowBuzz. "Using the CSI conventional format of forensic evidence and interrogation, we track down who done it."
Flashbacks and "visual conventions" comparable to CSI will also be used in the "Two and a Half Men" episode.
2On Thursday, "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" will air the "Two and a Half Deaths" episode where Grissom and the CSI team become immersed in the world of Hollywood comedy. The episode will be based on a sitcom diva (Katey Sagal) named Annabelle who gets murdered while filming her show in Las Vegas.
Along with Sagal ("Married with Children"), Rachael Harris ("Notes from the Underbelly"), Diedrich Bader ("The Drew Carey Show") and Constance Marie ("George Lopez") will guest star.
The "Two and a Half Men" episode takes place in their home in Malibu and inside an investigation room. In CSI the murder takes place in Las Vegas and the investigation is conducted in Los Angeles, where the writing of the fictitious sitcom takes place and where the writing staff is under suspicion.
The crossover episode idea came to fruition when Lorre (who also created "Grace Under Fire," "Cybill" and co-created "Dharma & Greg") contacted Carol Mendelsohn, executive producer of CSI.
"When Chuck pitched the idea to me … I thought it was an intriguing idea and walked into Naran's (Naran Shaknar, co-executive producer of "CSI") office and he said 'what a nut,'" Mendelsohn said. "Nobody really took us seriously."
The idea resurfaced when Mendelsohn and Lorre were at the World Television Festival in Canada and they decided to get approval and run with it.
The idea was accidentally leaked to the media when Mendelsohn slipped up during a talk she was giving. Before they knew it, Variety Magazine was inquiring about the crossover episodes that same day.
"It's mind-boggling that we did this," Lorre said.
Although the collaboration was fun and enjoyable, it took a little self-discipline handing over creative control of their shows.
"I think we all had to deal with issues of control," Mendelsohn said. "We're all used to being in control and in charge of our own shows and even though this was a freelance-type situation … there was an expectation and also a desire on all of our parts to really have a true collaboration. You have to give a little. It was sort of a life lesson, I think."
"They gave us the forensics and the plotting of the crimes. We kind of put in our little ha-has," said Lee Aronsohn, a "Two and a Half Men" creator and executive producer. "We put in our brilliant comedy."
"The biggest challenge for us was doing a comedy with a murder in it. Generally our stories are a little lighter," Lorre chuckled. "That was the big leap ... would our audience go with a dead body in it? There was a moment where it could have gone either way. I think the results were spectacular. It's a really funny episode."
Although the cast's eyebrows were raised, they all jumped on board.
According to Shaknar, CSI's William "Billy" Peterson said "Are you crazy? I'm not crossing over," before he knew all of the details.
And Charlie Sheen asked "Are you serious?" Lorre said.
"I think writing in general is hard. I think writing a CSI script is hard," Mendelsohn said. "It was so much fun to collaborate with Lee and Chuck.
"You see the show through their eyes. It's a show within a show," Mendelsohn added.