Friday, September 30, 2011

Happy Family Jules: Year of Penny

The fall TV season is slowly kicking into gear. With the exception of mid-season latecomers Cougar Town and 30 Rock, pretty much all of my regular shows are back on the air.

This week brought the return of Happy Endings, the little sitcom that could. Last season, ABC waited to premiere the show until mid-April at 10:30pm, which didn't exactly look like a vote of confidence from the network. Fortunately, Happy Endings proved to be quite the hidden treasure and was renewed for a second season. While the Season 2 opener wasn't necessarily the best the show has offered, let's give it a warm welcome to the Happy Family Jules family!

So, without further ado, here are the best moments from this week's Modern Family and Happy Endings...

Modern Family
Season 3, Episode 3: "Phil On Wire"
Alex and Haley end up in the same math class and Claire tries desperately to convince them to get along while she battles with the school's traffic cop, Phil and Luke are inspired by the documentary Man On Wire, Cam and Mitchell commit to a juice fast and Gloria is fed up with Jay's special treatment of their dog Stella.

Compared to last week's lukewarm opening, this episode was a vast improvement and felt much more like the beginning of a new season. Cam and Mitchell embarrassing themselves at a work party is a plot device we may need to retire after this week before it gets too overused, but watching Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Eric Stonestreet flop around in the ocean was certainly good for a laugh. The other two families had much better stories this week, even if Manny was absent for most of it.
"You know, I'm gonna check the lease but I'm pretty sure we can't have a meth lab." - Mitchell, who according to Luke is doing a Jew fast, not a juice fast.

"I'm supposed to put off my quest for wellness until we're no longer socially in demand? That'll never happen. I'm too charismatic." - Cam, whose diets usually crash and burn into a pile of Nutella.

"Hang in there. A couple more years, you'll have it all to yourself again." - Claire, who battles Law and Order: Special Parking Unit, to Haley, a.k.a. "School's Choice."

"With these steps, I break the surly bonds of… chicken in a basket!" - Phil, who now has two ways of getting across the yard.

"I do not have the energy to deal with a big needy brisket case… bras… basket case…" - Mitchell, who didn't deal well with the story of the injured sea lion.

"Away from me, temptress! And I never thought I'd call you that in a negative way." - Cam, who went all Girl Interrupted on Mitchell.
Happy Endings
Season 2, Episode 1: "Blax, Snake, Home"
One year after Alex left Dave at the alter, Jane encourages the two to start sharing all the little lies they told each other over the years. Meanwhile, Penny moves into a condo and is afraid she's turning into an old lonely spinster and Max feels left out of Brad's circle of friends.

This certainly doesn't hold up to some of the best of Season 1, but I imagine it was written as a way to introduce a (hopefully large) new audience to the characters and lay out exactly where each of them stands. Certainly there were a ton of great moments—the scenes in Penny's supposedly-haunted condo, Alex pushing her jambalaya onto people, Jane's reaction to Dave's 5-finger running shoes—but overall not the show's strongest showing.
"What? Oh, now a brother can't twirl?" - Brad, who is not on the down low (maybe).

"Richard Gere is not a Hurricane Katrina denier. I just said that to you that so we didn't have to watch Pretty Woman for the 74th time." - Dave, writer and performer of "Love to the Power of Love."

"I am a mess! Okay? Psycho! I will friend your mom on Facebook and start showing up to events I wasn't invited to!" - Penny, who might need to stop celebrating Year of Penny and get an AOL email address.

"Really? Women are just going crazy for trying on clothes and eating hot seafood soup?" - Max, who loves to spoil Richard Gere movies.

"Why is the DVR filled with The Good Wife and The View? I didn't record these. These are for lonely women who talk to themselves!" - Penny, who has ice cream stashed all over the condo.
[Image Source: ABC]

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