‘Odd-Couple’-ish skein seeks to stand alone

Emmy's new breed: Two and a Half Men

Airing Monday nights at 9:30 after “Everybody Loves Raymond,” “Two and a Half Men” averaged 16.5 million viewers, holding 95% of the aud for TV’s top sitcom.

With “Raymond” retired, and CBS set to promote it to the all-important 9 p.m. Monday slot in the fall, buzz has been building for “Two and a Half Men’s” Emmy chances this year.

Still, some critics remain skeptical as to “Men’s” credentials as an elite sitcom.

“I think viewers were laughing so hard after ‘Raymond,’ they just didn’t have the energy to change the channel,” says Minneapolis Star-Tribune TV critic Neal Justin.

“You can’t overlook the fact that we follow one of the greatest shows written and acted and produced on television of the last nine years,” acknowledges “Men” co-creator and exec producer Chuck Lorre.

Certainly, the “Raymond” factor can’t account for the fact that “Men” was one of the few sitcoms to show significant ratings growth last season.

Lorre would like “Men” to get a serious best-comedy look this year, but he’d also like to see stars Jon Cryer and Charlie Sheen get good looks from voters. Lorre adds that it’s the perf of 11-year-old Angus T. Jones that sets “Men” apart.

“He’s not the sitcom kid who disappears,” he says. “We can write whole scenes for him, and I think that gives us a flavor that you just can’t go out and get.”

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