Thursday, May 31, 2012

Cougar Town finally goes to Napa

ABC's Cougar Town ended its third and final season on the alphabet network last night, before it moves to TBS next year. The full hour episode, entitled "My Life; Your World," felt nothing like a series finale, so it's a good thing that it will not serve as such. Instead, what is presented is a very transitional episode, setting up what next season might be like.

Central to "My Life; Your World" is the marriage of Jules (Courteney Cox) and Grayson (Josh Hopkins). Though planned for four months from now, Grayson suggests eloping after growing frustrated that the rest of the gang is always around. Unfortunately, Jules doesn't understand that he means he wants only the two of them to be present, and she invites the rest of the Cul de Sac Crew to travel to Napa (where else would wine lovers go?) with them! Plans fall apart even further when Jules cannot get Grayson's daughter to join them, and so they decide to wait until they go home to get hitched.

Strangely,'s Michael Ausiello seems to be a mute bartender in Napa. For goodness sakes, where are the man's lines?

This disagreement between Jules and Grayson, over privacy is one that seems like a huge stumbling block. Grayson starts out as a character that is not part of the pack. Even after he begins hanging out with the others, he separates from time to time. But lately, he is always with the gang. Does his reaction, which manifests itself in some pretty angry outbursts, stem from a real desire to be alone sometimes, or is he just getting cold feet?

Hopefully, it's mostly the latter, since Jules' friends will not be going anywhere. And this does seem to be the case when Grayson not only gets over his hangup, but proposes to Ellie (Christa Miller), Andy (Ian Gomez), and Bobby (Brian Van Holt), too. If Grayson had not been able to come to terms with this, this would have been a major deal breaker. After all, if the group did not spend every waking moment together, what would the show be about?

Also, before Jules can admit she's got a problem, too, which is eventually shoved under the rug, making Grayson be the one that adapts, totally in character, there is a great homage to Groundhog Day.  Jules has never seen the movie. She makes her friends explain it to her, and it still confused. But as they make her live it until she admits that she's wrong, the hilarity ensues. Great use of a classic film!

The actual nuptials end up being really sweet, as Lynn (Nicole Sullivan) suggests that they be spontaneous, which is exactly what they do. While the couple cannot get permission to marry on the beach, Jules' dream, they stage a guerrilla wedding there anyway. As the cops (including one played by series creator Bill Lawrence) close in, they quickly become a moving wedding. It's a funny scene that really fits the tone of the series, both ridiculous and heart warming. Especially when Chick (Ken Jenkins) brings along his horse to keep him from crying.

Of course, there are other plots in "My Life; Your World," too. Travis (Dan Byrd) turns 21. This is celebrated in Napa by the gang pulling him out of bed and shoving a glass of wine into his hands. His resulting claim to not really care for the vino provides the appropriate shocked reaction from Jules. But that doesn't take away from how satisfying it is to finally see Travis drinking with the others.

As the kid on the show, he has always been a little bit outside of the group. In recent episodes, this has started to change, with less scenes of Travis at college, and more of him being included. Especially cool is his recent friendship with Ellie. The wine is the perfect initiation ceremony to move into the gang fully. And the terrible singing of happy birthday seems more realistic than most shows do.

Andy gets a father-son moment in the first half of the episode. With the joy of Penny Can having been sapped away when Travis points out how silly it's gotten, with all of the additional rules, Andy and Bobby mourn. However, Travis is able to boost their spirits by helping them introduce Stan (Sawyer Ever) to the game. The sight of Andy as a loving, devoted father is precious, and it's sort of a passing of the torch from Travis to Stan as the token kid, now that Travis has joined the adult world.

Is it a little odd that Travis might want to join his mother's circle of friends? Yes and no. Yes, because he's still in college, and they're all much older, and being too chummy with one's mom is a little creepy. No, because Jules has the coolest friends, which includes Travis' dad, whose father-son relationship is not at all creepy. But most of all, it works because of Travis' attraction to Laurie (Busy Philipps).

Ever since the start of Cougar Town, there has been a chemistry between Travis and Laurie. While Laurie is definitely the youngest one of the adults, it didn't work at first, when Travis is still a teenager, because of the age difference. By "My Life; Your World," it begins to feel a lot more natural. Travis makes a play for her, getting smashed, naked, and declaring his love, in front of the entire gang and Laurie's boyfriend, no less.

Laurie doesn't go for Travis yet, but the seed is planted. At the wedding on the beach, she looks at him, and there is definitely something between them, even stronger than before. She is surely actually seeing him as boyfriend material now. Will it work out between them? Who knows? But it will be very surprising if they do not become a couple sometime in season four.

The final plot involves Ellie falling for a hotel concierge named Daniel (David Arquette) who will do anything for her, which eventually lands him in jail. This entire subplot feels wrong and strange. Watching how not cool this all is with Andy, one keeps waiting for the inevitable moment where Ellie realizes she has hurt her husband and apologizes. It never comes. In the tag at the end of the episode, she is still rubbing his face into it. Not even Ellie is this cruel, and so the story falls flat. But it is the only really weak spot in the entire hour, so it can be overlooked.

Cougar Town will pack its bags and move to TBS soon. Make sure to watch for details about when it will come back! My recommended way to do this is to follow Bill Lawrence on twitter @VDOOZER.

If you like my reviews, please follow me on Twitter! Click here to buy DVDs and streaming episodes of Cougar Town. Read every Cougar Town review I've ever written! Article first published as Cougar Town finally goes to Napa on

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