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Charlie Harper is dead. Long live "Two and a Half Men"!

When the hit CBS sitcom returned for its ninth season on Monday night, it turned out that the reports of the death of Charlie Sheen's character were absolutely correct. The episode began at Charlie Harper's funeral, and the pews were filled with ex-girlfriends from episodes past.

And, as had been widely reported, it turned out that Charlie did indeed marry his stalker, Rose (Melanie Lynskey), after the pair ran off to Paris. And, according to Rose, she caught Charlie in the shower with another woman shortly thereafter.

She forgave him, "So you can imagine my horror when, the very next day, he slipped on the metro platform and fell in front of an oncoming train," Rose said. "His body just exploded like a balloon full of meat."

We're left to wonder if that was producer Chuck Lorre's revenge against Sheen. But not for long. Because new cast member Ashton Kutcher made a memorable entrance as Waldon Schmidt - dripping wet on the deck of Charlie's Malibu beachhouse, startling Alan (Jon Cryer) so much he accidentally tossed Charlie's ashes all over the living room.

Turns out Schmidt is a billionaire/innocent, so distraught over the end of his marriage that he threw himself in the ocean in a weak suicide attempt. He gave it up because the water was too cold.

Waldon is definitely not Charlie. He doesn't like the taste of alcohol. He does, however, end up in bed with two women before the episode is over. In Charlie's old bed.

The ghost of Charlie hung over the new version of "Two and a Half Men," but it didn't exactly cast a pall. It launched the show into what looks like a promising new chapter.

It was funny. Really funny.

And there were some great bonuses for fans. Not just all the actresses who returned for the funeral, but a cameo by John Stamos as a potential buyer for Charlie's house.

Stamos was one of the names that was floated as a possible Sheen replacement.

And an appearance by Jenna Elfman and Thomas Gibson - a k a Dharma and Greg - as another pair of potential house buyers

"Dharma & Greg" was another of Chuck Lorre's sitcoms.

With all the build-up and anticipation for this episode of "Two and a Half Men," it would have been easy for it to disappoint. It didn't.

Charlie Harper is dead. Long live "Two and a Half Men"