Thursday, March 22, 2012

Happy Family Jules: The Phallus Palace

Naturally, the end of my Happy Family Jules hiatus coincided perfectly with the beginning of Modern Family's three-week break. So although we won't hear from the Prichett-Dunphy-Tucker-Delgado clan until mid-April, there's plenty to discuss after this week's installments of Cougar Town and Happy Endings.

Let's get right to the reviews, coming up after the jump...

(You know what would be cooler than this title card bit? A new title.) Cougar Town
Season 3, Episode 6: "Something Big"
Jules forces Grayson to go to a marriage therapist to make sure they don't have any baggage before getting married, Laurie finds out Travis isn't as whipped by her as he used to be, and Ellie tries to get some alone time away from the Cul-De-Sac Crew. Oh, yeah.. Grayson finds out he has a daughter from one of his past hookups!

While the first five episodes of the season did their part in continuing the excellent character development on the show—Bobby's desire to be in a relationship and mend his rocky past with Travis comes instantly to mind—the show's two major character conflicts were not really acknowledged: Grayson's baby itch and the growing chemistry between Travis and Laurie. This week's episode took both of them on in full force.

When Jules agreed to "go on any adventure" with Grayson in the Season 2 finale, the idea of them having a baby together was still very much a reality, though I could never imagine the show wanting to tell stories about a pregnant Jules or essentially turn their central couple into Will Arnett and Christina Applegate in Up All Night. At the same time, it never seemed realistic to have Grayson give up his dream of being a parent, especially when that has been so important to him since early on in the series. The emergence of Holly and baby Tampa was the perfect solution: Grayson can be a father, Jules doesn't need to go through childbirth again, and the show can have another baby that they can use when the story suits them (I imagine Tampa and Stan will be spending a lot of time together off camera). I also loved the reminder that Laurie and Grayson slept together, and of course she is Tampa's godmother!

Speaking of Laurie, there was never any real fallout to the way she led on Travis in Hawaii just to get him to move back home. Then again, this might have been the first episode of the season when they were alone together, and it's obvious Travis has not forgotten. In true Cougar Town fashion, the majority of these proceedings were more comedy than drama, and we got a great running gag about the name of Travis' college apartment: Phallus Palace, Nut Hut, Wang Town and, finally, The Panty Graveyard. Dan Byrd and Busy Philips' chemistry is too strong to ignore, and I imagine that somewhere down the line we'll explore a potential relationship between them again. At least we know if happens, Laurie is going to have to work on making it up to Travis first.

The Ellie storyline was a bit of a throwaway for me, though still entertaining. I certainly won't complain about watching Brian Van Holt surf or seeing Ellie be blatantly judgmental towards Grayon's old hookups.

And a special shout out to Travis and his "black adjacent" roommate Sig's step routine at the end of the episode. I need to learn that immediately.

Happy Endings
Season 2, Episode 19: "You Snooze, You Bruise"
Dave challenges the gym bully and Jane tones down her control freak behavior when faced with a potential mutiny in the Homeowners' Assocation.

The return of Derrick! The return of Derrick! The return of Derrick! How is it possible that this character has only ever been in three episodes and his mere presence makes me howl with laughter. He's essentially an even more cartoonish, slightly bitchier Jack McFarland and the perfect counterpart to Max. His defeat of the bully (guest star Bobby Moynihan) was so fantastic, as were his exclamation of "Jaaavaaaaa!" and insistence that "fat is fat." I actually would've preferred if Max was the one being bullied at the gym instead of Dave. I like Dave, but I think he would've made a better sidekick in all of this. Plus, I can see the conflict of Max being picked on Corey but also being attracted to him because he's a bad boy being played hilariously by Adam Pally. With Dave at the helm, the story only went so far.

Jane being a control freak is not a new well for the show to go to, but it certainly never stops being amazing. From the "Turkish whore master" pants and nacho eating to Alex snapping her back to reality with the threat of garden gnomes and novelty gazebos, I could've watched Jane spiral out for an entire season. I especially loved the way it effected Brad's entire life: his dry cleaning, his groceries, his haircut—he looked like Gene Wilder, for crying out loud!

Of course, I couldn't finish without acknowledging this...
Max: You should watch the Gay History Channel.
Dave: That's a real thing?
Derrick: Yeah it's called Bravo.

[Image Source: ABC]
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