‘Happy Endings’ – ‘Code War’: Not on your (work) wife

11.17.11 6 years ago 45 Comments


I’ll get to the rest of the Wednesday comedies I watched in a little bit, but I’m enjoying “Happy Endings” so much these days that I feel it deserves its own space when I have the time to do so. A review of last night’s episode coming up just as soon as I demonstrate that I’m no stranger to the three-hole punch…

“Code War” was the second episode this season to guest star a former “Perfect Couples” castmember – David Walton played the gay guy who was into Alex on Halloween, and Hayes MacArthur was the kinky HR rep last night – and while we wait for Kyle Bornheimer to play one of Penny’s boyfriends and for Christine Woods to get into a fight with Max, I can’t help once again appreciating this show’s transformation from what I considered to be the least of last season’s “interconnected couples hang out and act goofy” sitcoms to one of TV’s funniest comedies.

There are weeks where the show splits its ensemble into three couples, each in a storyline bearing little connection to the others, but “Code War” was more ambitious. The arrival of Max’s high school girlfriend Angie(*) turned into a multi-pronged plot that involved Max and Dave beefing, Alex(**) crushing on Max and Penny being irrationally jealous of Angie. That worked out in a very satisfying way, because then scenes didn’t have to be about the one story or joke, but could bounce around from people making fun of Dave’s new perm (“You look like Keri Russell after she ruined ‘Felicity'”) to Alex desperately trying to rub Max’s chest hair. (And then the way Max killed the crush was hilarious.) The episode just felt more densely-packed as a result, and the show has been around long enough that there are now subtle recurring gags, like Dave being incredibly awkward while appearing on camera for the meat-related podcast.

(*) Played by the underrated Riki Lindhome, aka one half of the hilarious Garfunkel and Oates. Her partner Kate Micucci has a recurring role on “Raising Hope,” and it’s well past time Lindhome has regular TV employment. Maybe someone can put her and Christine Woods (who turned out to be the best part of “Perfect Couples”) in a show together for next season?

(**) I take back what I said at the start of the season about Alex and Dave being obvious weak links. I don’t know that either character is as inherently funny as the other four, but the show has figured out how to put them in funny situations (like Dave in his underwear preparing meat and rocking out to Indigo Girls). Well done, show.

Brad and Jane’s quest for work spouses wasn’t as connected to the rest of the action, but when you have Eliza Coupe being that terrible at flirting (and then the payoff with Brad being turned on off by how she puts her fingers in her mouth), it really doesn’t matter. For as good as “Happy Endings” is at mixing up the combos, Coupe and Damon Wayans Jr. are perfect together.

I miss “Cougar Town.” I want “Cougar Town” back ASAP – though I’m enjoying the actors’ random cameos across primetime (like Busy Philipps being at the coffee stand in this episode) – and am annoyed that ABC hasn’t announced a premiere date yet. But “Happy Endings” has turned out to be a more-than-worthy replacement, and I’d love to see a mid-season schedule that has the two partnered together. That would be an hour of joy.

What did everybody else think?

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