Season finale review: ‘Happy Endings’

Senior Television Writer
04.04.12 30 Comments


And so we’ve come to the second season finale of “Happy Endings,” a comedy that’s pleasantly evolved from one I had no use for to one of my current favorites. A review of the episode coming up just as soon as I become the first black sheriff on Mars…

I didn’t love either of the last two episodes (though some of you disagreed with me strongly on last week’s), but was glad to see this largely triumphant second season conclude in more appropriate fashion with an episode that had the madcap spirit, pacing and punchline success ratio of the show at its best, along with some emotional material that worked and didn’t undercut the gags.

As always, there were tons of jokes, include a few self-aware punchlines, whether it was Derrick complaining about that very rat-a-tat style (“The back and forth, it’s exhausting! I don’t even know what you’re saying half the time!”) or Max telling Penny, “I am so glad I don’t get invested in your boyfriends of the week who I only hear about through dialogue!” But there were plenty of successful non-meta jokes as well, from Alex’s mispronunciation of Wilmer Valderama’s name (which I won’t even attempt to spell phonetically) to everyone making fun of Jane in the bright yellow tux(*) to Penny Boyfriend of the Week Chris(**) explaining that “ski boxing” is “a sport invented by energy drinks.”

(*) Lot of good tux-related humor in general, including Alex comparing them all to Jean Dujardin (which in turn set up Jane’s Angelina Jolie leg parody, which had the problem of following Oscar Winner Jim Rash’s parody of it during the Oscars) and Penny in a tux trying to squeeze Max into his Madonna drag. 

(**) Played by The Notorious B.A.G. himself, Brian Austin Green. Once mocked, but now with a long grace period from me thanks to his surprisingly excellent work on “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.”

And where the show sometimes gets iffy with the sweet stuff, the finale was an episode where the goofiness co-existed happily with the heart, so that Jane and Brad could have a real conversation about him getting fired, or Penny and Dave could have a moment, or the series could actually even go back to the Dave/Alex tension that so many people (myself included) hated at the start of season 1 and possibly pull it off. The latter was helped by the casual tone of it; where “Friends” would have made it a melodramatic ZOMG! cliffhanger, here it’s the two of them not sure where this is going to go, or whether they want it to, and just holding hands while Mandonna did “Like a Prayer.” If the writers come back together for next season and they have a lot of good Alex/Dave couple stories, great. And if not, they can walk away from it pretty easily.

And I do feel pretty confident that we’re getting another season. (More than I do about “Cougar Town,” sadly, but what are you gonna do?) The ratings have remained decent, if not great, after “Modern Family” – and I expect “Don’t Trust the B—- in Apt. 23” to do worse by the end of its season, as it’s even more of a tonal whiplash from “Modern Family” – ABC execs like it, and the buzz is good. Whether it’ll still air on Wednesdays at 9:30 is uncertain (my guess is no), but I think we’ll get a whole lot more of these six miscreants, and I’m damn glad about that.

What did everybody else think?

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