A review of last night’s “Cougar Town” coming up just as soon as my car smells like conch…
Boy, that was a good one.
Halloween episodes of sitcoms can feel like crutches. You put the cast in goofy costumes and rely on that to get you through a disposable half-hour. There were definitely memorable costumes here – including the tried-and-true formula of dressing one co-star up as another (I found Laurie-as-Ellie funnier and/or more convincing than Ellie-as-Laurie) – but this was still very much “Cougar Town”(*), with running practical jokes, goofy songs and some real, earned emotions.
(*) This week’s title card gag: “Titles Are Hard: Cougar Town.”
Ken Jenkins was just fantastic as Chick, Jules’ Southern-fried dad – funny and eccentric and completely human when he finally told Jules why he closes up around her these days – and this may have been Courteney Cox’s best episode since the Thanksgiving fight with Travis last season. Jenkins obviously has a great relationship with Bill Lawrence from the “Scrubs” days, and I hope Chick is back early and often, with or without the bear suit.
The Bobby/Ellie/Andy story, meanwhile, started off in an area that, as I mentioned in last week’s “Modern Family” review, I despise: parents freaking out about getting their kid into the perfect pre-school. It’s so tired, so phony, so very much a product of LA/NY/showbiz culture that gets projected onto every character living everywhere, that I automatically recoil when a show goes there. Fortunately, the story only went there for five seconds(**) before becoming about Ellie’s understandable trust issues with Bobby. A good, sweet story for those two, and in this case the Halloween costumes enhanced it, since Bobby kept coming up with different ways to blow away from Ellie.
(**) Though when I mentioned this on Twitter, “Cougar Town” co-creator Kevin Biegel warned me that they might go the traditional route later. Heh.
And then there was a very funny, potentially foreshadowing story for Laurie and Travis. Lawrence has told me in the past that he’d like to put those two together as a couple at some point, and just has to wait for Travis to get far enough away from high school that it wouldn’t seem gross. (In real life, Dan Byrd and Busy Philipps are much closer in age than Travis and Laurie are supposed to be.) And watching their chemistry in a story like this one, it’s easy to see why Lawrence would want to go there, and I’m wondering if we might be getting there sooner rather than later. When Travis followed up Laurie’s Ellie costume by going as a mustache-less Andy (“I’m Cuban, but I don’t speak Spanish!”), my eyebrows raised a little. Hmmm…
Also, loved Grayson calling Andy “Dom DeLuise dressed as Burt Reynolds,” Grayson’s various Prince jokes, and every single second of the tag with Grayson, Chick, Laurie and the candystealing kid. (“Now you have to sit here and listen to a bear and a gay pirate play some horrible song over and over.”)
What did everybody else think?