In tonight's episode, Alan has an unfortunate one-night stand with a woman dressed in an S & M Nazi outfit. The unfortunate part is that he wound up blind-folded, hog-tied and with an indelible ink Hitler mustache on his lip. That's pretty much how the story was described in every draft of the script, and, as you just saw, was what we filmed in front of a studio audience (with several happy CBS executives in attendance). Now here's where this gets interesting. Five days before tonight's episode was to air, I was informed by a high-ranking CBS exec that the swastika armband on the hot, crazy girl and the Hitler/Charlie Chaplin mustache on Alan were unacceptable for broadcast. In other words, eighteen years after Seinfeld went to a Neo-Nazi rally, forty-two years after Mel Brooks unveiled "Springtime for Hitler," forty-five years after Hogan's Heroes, and seventy-five years after Bugs Bunny and Donald Duck poked fun at the Third Reich, some genius at CBS who will remain anonymous (Marty Franks), decided that Two and a Half Men had crossed a line. If it were me, I would have saved my censorship scissors for upcoming episodes, like the one where Alan chronically masturbates in order to amortize his erection medication. Or maybe the one with the cute subplot in which Evelyn complains about having a dry vagina. But okay, to each his own, right? Anyway, after many exhausting phone calls, I managed to keep the mustache scene from being cut in exchange for digitally turning the swastika on the girl's armband into a happy face. Yeah, that's right. A fucking happy face. (They actually wanted the entire armband to be digitally erased, but I convinced them nothing makes a Nazi sadist more endearing than a happy face.) After my blood pressure settled back to 280 over 1000, I asked some big shots at Warner Bros. and ICM who Marty Franks was. No one had ever heard of him. Oddly enough, that filled me with hope. It meant that, infuriating though it was, this entire incident had allowed me to stumble upon the secret identity of a real life superhero. Somewhere, deep within the labyrinthian corridors of CBS-Viacom, walks a man sworn to protect us. A stealthy man who performs his work in corporate shadows, seeking no credit, no reward, no applause. He does what he does simply because it's the right thing to do. Sleep well, America. Marty's on the job.


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