CBS Sitcom, Drama Swap Writers for Genre Mashup

Just in time for sweeps, the May 5 broadcast of CBS’ Two and a Half Men might well be a TV first. The episode was written by Carol Mendelsohn and Naren Shankar, executive producers of the net’s CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, while the May 8 CSI broadcast was penned by Chuck Lorre and Lee Aronsohn, creators and executive producers of Men.

Crossover stunts traditionally involve the cast of one series appearing on another in a narrative that extends to both shows. In this case, other than a few brief cameos, each show’s story line is self-contained. (On Men, there’s a murder in Malibu, while on CSI, a sitcom star dies while filming her show in Las Vegas.)

The writing of both episodes was where the true crossover took place. On Men, for example, CSI’s Mendelsohn and Shankar “did the forensics and the plotting of the crime,” Aronsohn said during a conference call last week with all four producers. “And we put in the ha-ha-has.”

Of course, comedy fans expect jokes. But a funny CSI? “It is broader than in the past,” Shankar said. “But it absolutely is a CSI, with a great payoff at the end.”

Added Lorre: “We managed to make a mutt of both shows.”