A review of tonight’s “Cougar Town” coming up just as soon as I call my body “The Truth” unironically…
I haven’t gone back and watched any season 1 or season 2 episodes lately, so it’s entirely possible the rate of jokes was just as high in previous years as it is now. But it definitely feels like a faster, denser pace, so loaded with ideas and gags that a joke that might be the basis of an entire subplot elsewhere – say, Laurie offering on behalf of all hos to take Ellie back into the fold – is just a throwaway line (albeit a very funny one, perfectly-delivered by Busy Philipps) in the midst of dealing with Dominance Ball, the magical powers of the dog park, Travis’ brain injury disrupting All Wedding, All The Time, and everything else that kept “Lover’s Touch” hopping. (For that matter, there was probably a much larger chunk of time that could’ve been devoted to eating caveman-style, or Andy’s hideous feet, etc.)
This was an especially good episode for Andy and Grayson, as I got my biggest non-ho-related laughs out of Andy going through Jules’ speed-dial (Ellie instantly hanging up on him was a great touch) and then Andy and Grayson realizing that they just want to be treated like a baby. Grayson has transformed a lot from the guy he was at the start of the series (but then, so has the whole show), and his struggle with the emotionally needy person he’s become was very amusingly played by Josh Hopkins, just as Ian Gomez got to enjoy a rare opportunity to play Andy as the dominant one in any kind of relationship.
It was also a series-best outing for Bob Clendenin as Tom, who in one half hour is granted a last name (Gazelian, but pronounced to sound like “Gazillion”), two grown and successful kids and a thriving career as chief of neurosurgery. (Though it does feel like there have been scenes in previous episodes – as recently as last week, when Jules complained of internal bleeding to Tom – that his medical credentials should have come up. I like that the show continues to take tiny baby steps with his assimilation into the group(*). I don’t know that he’ll ever be a full-fledged member of the Cul-de-Sac Crew, but Jules is capable of being briefly decent to him before forgetting every relevant detail about his life like she’s Leonard in “Memento.”
(*) They are, frankly, doing a better job of it than “Community” has with Senor Chang, though it’s not an apples-to-apples situation, since Ken Jeong is a regular castmember that “Community” has to use frequently, where “Cougar Town” only inserts Tom as needed.
Travis’ injury was probably less compelling than what was going on elsewhere, but the sight of Dan Byrd in that helmet is never not funny, and I liked how they tied the separate Jules and Grayson stories together by having all the parents seek solace in the dog park after Laurie astutely and terrifyingly summed up what it’s like to have kids.
What did everybody else think? Do you want Dominance Ball to be a continuing idea like Penny Can, or a one-shot deal like the movie mash-up game?