A quick review of last night’s “Cougar Town” coming up just as soon as I buy a fake ratty boat-fixing outfit…
Another fun outing for the Cul de Sac Crew – or, as Jules renames them for the week, the Drink Tank Think Tank – with a group of subplots addressing various long-simmering issues:
• Why doesn’t the show bother with work stories anymore? Because everyone’s job is dull and routine and not nearly as entertaining as seeing the gang together drinking thinking wine in Jules’ kitchen. (As with baby Stan, we just have to accept that they have jobs that we’re virtually never going to see them at – with the exception of Grayson, since the bar is a useful setting.)
• Why was Jules ever with Bobby? Because once upon a time, he was a badass golfer with confidence and ambition, not a dumb hillbilly content to be going nowhere.
• Why is Ellie so suspicious of Grayson? Because she doesn’t have dirt on him like she has on every other member of the group. (Except maybe Laurie, and she’s never wholly embraced her, either.)
• When will someone other than the audience notice that Travis and Laurie are destined to be a couple? Well, Kirsten was the one to finally spot the chemistry, which in turn finally opened Travis and Laurie’s eyes to it. (In the summer, Bill Lawrence told me they probably needed to wait a few more years before they could go to this well, given that Travis began the series as a high schooler, but it looks like they’ve decided it’s silly to wait. That’s how good Dan Byrd and Busy Philipps are together.)
And in the midst of answering those questions, there were a lot of great jokes: Laurie as fake sorority girl, Christa Miller’s teenage eyebrows, Travis distracting Bobby with a tub of cheesy popcorn, Jules trying to turn the boat clean-up into an ’80s movie montage(*), or the group discovering the hard way that Jealous Much was not, in fact, seaworthy.
(*) Though that joke felt very much like the sort of thing these writers would have given to JD on “Scrubs.” At what point do the two characters merge so that Courteney Cox and Zach Braff can alternate in the role?
Be interesting to see if the writers now give Bobby some kind of “Tin Cup” story arc where he does well in a tournament, whether Ellie and Grayson’s interaction is different, and how long it takes Travis and Laurie to wind up smooching. But as long as the jokes are good, the stories are largely secondary.
Finally, if you didn’t see the news earlier in the week, ABC has announced a mid-season schedule where “Cougar Town” will be off the air from February into April while the Matthew Perry vehicle “Mr. Sunshine” takes its place. (Cue the inevitable “Chandler steals Monica’s timeslot” jokes.) I’m not too worried. First, this was going to happen sooner or later, given that the timeslot after “Modern Family” is ABC’s most valuable comedy real estate, and “Cougar Town” has tended to do decently but not fantastic with that lead-in. Second, the “Mr. Sunshine” pilot isn’t very good, despite a lot of talented people, so unless it gets much better quickly, I wouldn’t be surprised if its performance winds up being worse than what “Cougar Town” has been doing, and then we wind up with a “Chuck”-esque “the devil you know” situation where ABC recognizes that while they’d like to do better at 9:30, “Cougar Town” is more reliable than the other options.
What did everybody else think?