‘Cougar Town’ – ‘Ways to Be Wicked’: Base of cakes

Senior Television Writer
04.17.12 11 Comments

A quick review of tonight’s “Cougar Town” coming up just as soon as my house is haunted by a ghost dentist…

As we’ve often talked about, “Cougar Town” backed into the show that it’s become, and there are occasionally times where it has to deal with vestiges of what it used to be. Not so much the cougar thing — though Chick, Bobby, Travis and his roommates(*) spend a good chunk of the episode trying to steal a cougar statue — as the way that certain characters like Grayson and Ellie, as originally conceived, don’t seem like ideal members of a group of goofballs who just like to hang out together.

(*) I had worried that Tinker from “Friday Night Lights” had been usurped by Sig, but it fortunately turns out they both live there.

Grayson’s evolved a fair amount from the isolated lothario he used to be. But every now and then we have to see him struggling to be interested in what another member of the crew is up to, as he gets forced by Andy to act enthusiastic about Laurie’s cake-baking ambitions, then gets in too deep by impulsively buying a new oven for the bar. Busy Philipps has been killing it all season, and she continued to do so here (Laurie’s terrified reaction to the smiling old man was particularly nice), but I also enjoyed how Josh Hopkins played Grayson’s insane rage over Laurie putting him into an $1100 hole.

Ellie’s more or less the same, as everyone seems content writing Christa Miller in the same sarcastic, misanthropic vein from her “Scrubs” days. It does, however, feel like we’ve gotten a number of stories this year that have gone out of their way to explain why the rest of the gang cares so much about Ellie when she’s so mean. And tonight we got an Ellie origin story of sorts with the appearance of ’70s TV beauty Susan Blakely as Ellie’s mother Betsy, who somehow manages to be even meaner and colder than Ellie herself. That was a more heartfelt story, but with some amusing gags for Courteney Cox as Jules got sucked into the addictive power of cruelty.

What did everybody else think?

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