I remember the cloakroom, I just don't remember you is a well written episode, with most of the characters playing their roles to the hilt, and Terri Hatcher as Judith's sister Liz providing the "lighter fluid" (allusion clue: Charlie uses this metaphor when trying to jog Liz's memory about their cloakroom tryst, complimenting her that it helps him when "barbecuing alone"). Charlie & Alan, of course the "two" part of the Two and a Half Men equation, are great as usual; however, it is unusual that this time it is Alan who is getting the female attention. A bit of a role reversal that leads to a very erotic situation, perhaps as Charlie says, "the holy grail of recreational sex" that maybe proves a bit too much for anyone to fulfill in real life.
Jake, the "Half" part of the 2 1/2 Men equation, adds up to more than the sum of his part. He has some good running gags with the word ironic, using it in mimicry of Uncle Charlie though he doesn't know the definition. He admits he doesn't know it, but trusts his uncle. Another running gag is that Jake gets a magic trick kit from Rose, and is going to the Magic Castle for his birthday. He keeps trying the tricks out, but can't ever get them to work. At one point, he fails to join two magic rings, and mutters "ironic" ironically, thus joining the two running gags as he failed to join the magic rings.
Jake is a great kid, cute, but just chubby, cranky, and gullible enough to not make you want to barf. He is Charlie's foil, the butt of many jokes from all and sundry, and occasionally gets off a zinger or two of his own. As the reruns repeat in syndication it is a shock to see how young he is compared to the current episodes. We have watched him grow up onscreen. I hope nothing happens to him like so many child actors--Different Strokes comes to mind--and what with Charlie "the Machine" Sheen as his onscreen uncle, you'd have to worry. Yet, he seems to be a pretty well grounded kid.
Judith is great as the shrewish ex wife. Very realistic in tone, yet she contributes so much to the comedy. Just enough exaggeration to highlight the humor. Couldn't ask for more. Evelyn is always a treat as the toxic mother. What better profession for her than Beverly Hills Real Estate Agent? For Jake's birthday, she of course gets him clothes, the least favorite gift of 11 year-old boys everywhere. "They're not clothes, they're Calvin Kline," she tries to convince him. "No, they're clothes," Jake sniffs dismissively. Finally, Rose, as Charlie's stalker, a whacky neighbor, if you will, who is way over the top, but blends in with the tone of the rest of the characters. Perhaps she is a splash of hot pink in an otherwise pastel bouquet. What is great about Rose is that while her character is so over the top, she actually trades in subtlety and nuance. A running gag with her--that she is going to "some clown's wedding," pays off in the big top big time.
Everything comes together for the final act, as Rose returns from "some clown's wedding" in an actual clown suit, and assists Jake in his magic act. Wearing the Calvin Kline from Evelyn and with Clown Rose at his side, he blossoms into quite the magician, pulling off his illusions flawlessly. He makes Roses stems disappear behind a curtain. Bravo, you are thinking, but wait, where is Evelyn? She has fallen into another drunken stupor and is missing the finale. Just in the nick of time she stumbles in and screams because the clown has no legs!