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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Cougar Town: Titles Are Hard

     Perhaps the worst named sitcom currently on television, ABC's Cougar Town is also one of the funniest.  The rotten concept the series began with was ditched early on in the first season, and the show morphed into something really great.  Debate raged last spring whether a name change may help the series pick up viewers, but a new one was never agreed upon.  As a nod to fans, this year's season premiere had "(Still)" above the title.  And since then, there has been a new tag every week making fun of the monkier.  This week's was "Titles Are Hard", which, to Bill Lawrence's credit, they are.  Still, I can't help but wishing they had made a change.  My favorite was the sligthly risque Family Jules, which is way more accurate as to what the show is about.

     That's because the show, whose central character is Jules Cobb (Courteney Cox), is now about her group, as they have become a family.  Yes, the other characters often all revolve around her, and her house is the hang out place.  She gave up on being a cougar a long time ago, and is now in a steady relationship with a more age appropriate man, Grayson (Josh Hopkins).  She's not the only one who was rapidly evolved.  Ellie (Christa Miller) and Laurie (Busy Philipps), who started out as bitter enemies still have their tiffs, but they have pretty much accepted each other, and even sometimes spend time together without common denominator Jules.  Jules's ex-husband, Bobby (Brian Van Holt), who was originally kind of a joke, is now beloved and accepted by all of the others.  Andy (Ian Gomez), while still not the one wearing the pants in his marriage, is valued by his wife, and can make decisions without her.  Even Jules's son, Travis (Dan Byrd), who at first seemed separate from the adults as they came together, finds frequent reasons to be home from college, hanging out with his parents' pals.

     If it all sounds honky dory, that's because it is.  Yet, it still delivers laugh out loud moments every week.  Whether it be a funny new song that Grayson makes up, a new drinking game, turning Travis's bedroom into a Jam Room, or everyone hanging out in Jules's renovated dream bathroom, simple, silly things make the comedy must-see.

     Last night, Jules's father, Chick, came for a visit.  He was played by Ken Jenkins, who was Dr. Kelso on ScrubsScrubs was, of course, created by the same man who does Cougar Town, Bill Lawrence, as his wife, Christmas Miller, has appeared in both shows.  Quick Bill Lawrence trivia: Not only does Travis currently attend college at the set used for the medical school in last season's failed continuation of Scrubs, but the original Scrubs hospital can still be seen every week in Cartoon Network's hilarious Childrens Hospital.  Bill Lawrence things just don't die.  Including Ken Jenkins, who was fresh as ever, and actually, thankfully, though I liked the character, wasn't very Kelso-y.

     The episode focused on Chick's refusal to show Jules much affection since her mother died.  Sure, it was perfectly predictable that the root cause would be because Jules reminded Chick too much of his departed wife.  But their reconcilliation after a big confrontation still jerked a few tears.  It made me wish Jenkins was on the show more regularly, and given Lawrence's penchant for constantly adding and bringing back recurring characters, coupled with his adoration of Jenkins, it could happen.

     The episode also was goofy just because of the Halloween element.  Ellie dressed up as Laurie, and Laurie dressed up as Ellie, leading to some choice one-liners.  Travis later showed up as Andy, which confirms once more that somewhere down the line, as Travis gets slightly older, the cougar concept may be revisited somewhat by a Travis-Laurie pairing, and while it would be weird at first, they do have great chemistry.  Even though she is his mom's friend, much older than him, so maybe not.  Chick was a bear, and no one knew he was at the bar for awhile (except observant or intelligent viewers).  Andy was Burt Reynolds, but as Grayson put it, looked like Dom DeLuise dressed as Burt Reynolds.  Jules thought Grayson was going to be a prince, so she dressed as a princess.  Grayson was actually the singer Prince, again, I saw it coming from a mile away, but still couldn't stop laughing.  Oddly enough, despite all of those great costumes, my favorite was Bobby's Windy Guy, mostly because Ellie and Andy had to have a serious conversation with a guy whose hair was gelled back and had pieces of trash stuck to him.

     If you're not watching Cougar Town, please give it another chance.  It's on right after Modern Family, and I know plenty of you watch that.  Check out Cougar Town Wednesdays at 9:30 on ABC.  In Lexington, ABC is found on channel 10 (antenna), 386 (satellite), or 908 (high definition cable).

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