Last night’s “Cougar Town” was the last new episode of the series to air for the next nine weeks (and while it’ll return later than originally planned, it will at least get a “Dancing with the Stars” lead-in once), and I have a review coming up just as soon as I get a rose on the gay hillbilly version of “The Bachelor”…
Dammit, why did they have to be so good on their way out the door?
This hiatus – designed so ABC can try exposing both “Mr. Sunshine” and “Happy Endings” after “Modern Family” in hopes one of them will retain the lead-in better than “Cougar Town” has – was going to be annoying enough already. But if it had come after, say, last week’s episode (which I didn’t love), I could at least roll with it more easily. Instead, the show takes a break after one of its smartest, sweetest and laugh-out-loud funniest episodes of the season, and now I’ve gone back to being annoyed with Matthew Perry again.(*)
(*) I’ll have a real review of “Mr. Sunshine” next week, but the short version would sound a lot like my thoughts on the early days of “Cougar Town”: a lot of people that I like working on a show that’s only occasionally funny and isn’t entirely sure what it wants to be when it grows up.
Holiday time often brings out the best in “Cougar Town,” as the heightened emotions and hassles of those special days of the year play very well with the exaggerated antics of the cul-de-sac crew, while also making the trademark Bill Lawrence sweetness feel more appropriate. The Thanksgiving fight between Jules and Travis was one of the earliest signs in season one that the show was finding its voice, and this year’s Halloween visit from Jules’ dad was another highlight. Here, Valentine’s Day sets everyone on edge, but usually in clever ways. Andy once again proves to be master of his wife’s ever-shifting moods, Grayson comes up with an inspired solution to Jules’ desire to see him cry (because what man – particularly what man with a deceased father – doesn’t choke up at the “You wanna have a catch?” scene in “Field of Dreams”?), and we get another fine Grayson song out of the deal. And the circles of both love and hate were very-well designed and executed.
But beyond the emotional stuff, this was the most I’ve laughed at the show in quite some time, from Andy needing to see his ideas in Bobby’s eyes to Travis’ horrifying boudoir photo session with his parents (and then Kirsten’s understandable reaction to the picture) to Laurie’s barely-intelligible lament during the “bitch and ditch” scenario at the restaurant.
“Cry to Me” was an episode that understood well what makes all these characters tick, but also what makes them really, really funny. Well done, show. Get the hell back soon, okay?
What did everybody else think?