Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Cougar Town, "Into the Great Wide Open": I'm getting too old for this stuff

Some quick thoughts on tonight's "Cougar Town" coming up just as soon as I put peanuts in your wine...

Opinion seemed split on the series pilot, with some people finding it funny and others finding it too desperate to work. I fell largely on the "funny" side (though there's always a flop sweat element to Courteney Cox's performances, in any role), and while I didn't find "Into the Great Wide Open" nearly as funny, it actually made me feel more confident about the show's long-term prospects than the pilot did.

That's primarily because of the scene near the end where Jules yells at Ellie from across their lawns about how she understands what she's doing is stupid, and that everyone's laughing at her, but she doesn't care because she wants to try it. That level of self-awareness on Jules' part is crucial; if she's deluded about how she's acting, and how it looks, the show gets unbearable in a hurry.

On the other hand, it's worth noting that most of the jokes that worked in this one involved the men, whether it was Ellie's husband's frustration at being a pawn in her feud with Jules (and then enjoying some time alone at Grayson's bachelor pad) or Travis' mortification on having to ride on his dad's golf cart. Bill Lawrence candidly admitted that the original cut of the pilot felt too much like it was written by guys pretending to understand a woman's problems. He and Kevin Beigel have since hired a bunch of female writers (including Mara Brock Akil from "Girlfriends"), and maybe their episodes will more evenly distribute the laughs than Lawrence's script did here, but that's something to keep an eye on going forward.

What did everybody else think?

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

Not very good, it's just not funny.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Also forgot to mention: the two cops in the photo montage were played by Bill Lawrence and producer Randall Winston (who was the hook-handed security guard on Scrubs).

Kensington said...

I haven't seen the pilot yet, but I liked this episode. The slightly desperate undertone gives it an edge that's unusual and makes it stand out a little.

I'm intrigued, and Courtney's vulnerability is appealing.

Phil Freeman said...

I liked the pilot, but gave up on this one at the first commercial break. Don't know if I'll be back.

The Seventh Soldier said...

I found it enjoyable enough. It had me laughing out loud once or twice. It also made me a little hopeful for the future of the show - it isn't just about Cox cougaring it up, but instead about trying to recapture her lost youth.

You can only have so many plots in which she bangs a 20 year old, but having that just be a symptom, for her, of something she missed opens up a lot more doors.

Tyroc said...

I liked this episode MUCH more than the first. She became someone I can root for -- someone who missed out on her youth and is now trying to make up for what she missed. Not in a sad way, but in the way of an underdog who is not great at it but tries anyway.

The title is still awful. And Bill Lawrence's wife is still awful as well. But better than the first.

LA said...

My beef is completely unfair, but I was distracted by the fact that the sets and locations were different - different street, different house, different office. Otherwise, I liked it, and I loved seeing Bill and Randall as cops. I wonder if Ellie's baby is the youngest Lawrence child?

toonsterwu said...

I like this show. While I'm completely different demographically from the title character (27, m, asian), there's definitely something about the character that can resonate. This isn't a sad character - as Alan notes in his review, this is a self-aware character who is trying to sort out ... well, I can't think of the right way to put it now, so the meaning of life, basically, for her. There's a lot of stuff they can explore.

I haven't read BL's updates on the show, but yeah, I did think this show seemed slightly geared towards a male's take, so it'll be interesting to see what the influence of the female writers are to the show.

The son seems alright, but there's really a lack of something there. HE's too similar to Courtney Cox in mannerism, imo, and the problem is, with Cox, there's an inherent reason that has been clearly stated and explained - a middle-aged woman trying to find herself. They need to spend some backstory on the son.

I'm not sure I really care for the purpose of Barb's character, which seems, right now, like a warning sign for Jules to not go down that road. Busy Phillips character could show a bit more work as well - she is working, and she should have other interests than being the raging party girl. This is, though, only the 2nd episode.

Ex-husband needs some background depth. I thought the war stories would give us a peek perhaps, as he was off partying 45 days while Jules was pregnant? There's a lot that can be explored there without veering into Jay Mohr/Paula Marshall Gary UnMarried cheesy (and I sorta like that show, but it is quite cheesy at times).

I like Christa Miller. I fear, though, like Callie Thorne, that both women are somewhat typecast, which makes this worse, since BL is her husband. But whereas Callie Thorne seems to be the sexed up milf these days (she had a guest stint on Royal Pains where she was the horny older lady), Christa has sort of been playing the crazy cougar for awhile that I hope they give her character more than just a sidekick role, more than Robin to Batman. They can explore a middle-aged married woman's pains and concerns without delving into crazy cougar persona.

If there's a concern I have, it's that the show will throw Grayson and Jules together at some point. It just ... feels like there's a shot that can happen, and I hope it doesn't. They need to find that banter in b/w, of two people who eventually share a similar (divorcees), but far different, journey. Would love to see them add Grayson's ex-wife into the mix as well.

Okay ... do I have a problem with this show? Yes. I love Bill Lawrence. I think he's great. But ... he really doesn't do much with minorities that aren't somewhat stereotypical in some fashion. Even Turk and Carla had some stereotypical traits. There's a lot of interesting dynamics they could put into Cougar Town (not much they can do about the name anymore) involving minority middle aged people without getting ridiculous.

But overall, I really like the tone and direction of the show.

HautieTx said...

Out of the 4 new ABC Wednesday comedies this is the one I like the most.

I see potential for it if it does not concentrate on the whole "cougar" thing.

I like her crazy lazy ex-husband. Like the neighbor - paper buddy. Never been a fan of Busy Phillips but she is not too annoying.

The one thing that does distract me is her best friend (w/the baby)... what is wrong with the movement in her face?

Mostly the lower part of her face around the mouth. It just does not look natural. When she speaks it looks off. Maybe bad botox or lip injections?

Sam said...

cancelled it from my DVR after last night.

Jocelyn said...

MONSTER!! Dang, that was awesome when they got the hubby in the garage.

Last night was the first time I watched. I thought it was funny. If I can remember to watch it next week, I might.

dez said...

I think the show has potential, which is why I will keep watching for awhile. I also hope it succeeds and that they expand Barb's role because anything that gets Carolyn Hennessy off the total suck that is "General Hospital" is okay by me!

Anonymous said...

I am really enjoying this show. To me, it feels fresh-many sitcoms are so predictable. I don't feel like I know what is coming next, which is fun. Also I do have a soft spot for the actor who plays the "paper buddy", I loved him in Swingtown.

Tina said...

I like Cougar Town and can relate since I had a child at 20 and missed my 20's....

CC is a bit over the top as usual but I think BL can pull this sitcom off...just give him time

Gooch said...

I almost wonder if this show would have been better off on HBO, Showtime or FX. It seems artificially toned down for its premise (the whole 10-date rule thing), in an effort to not be too controversial or offensive. Still good though.

Stacey said...

I liked the show! I thought it was fun to see someone trying to relive their twenties. You just can't do it, once you hit your thirties and beyond. If you look back at the heart of your twenties, aren't you surprised that you actually lived through those times? I am! They were fun, but trecherous! I liked this episode!

Anonymous said...

I'm loving this show so far. Granted, I am pretty much the target audience, but it makes me lol, and that's what I want from a comedy.

Hunter13 said...

Liked this one less than the Pilot, which wasn't that great to start with. But I do feel that the show has potential and I'm not yet giving up on it.

I just hope that Courteney Cox will tone it down a bit in future episodes and play it a bit more natural instead of over-the-top sitcom-y like she keeps doing now.

Diana said...

I watched about two minutes of this. Courtenay Cox is too hyper for me, just too much and I can't stand what's her name? you know, Dr. Cox's creepy squeeze/wife, I don't even know 'cause I record Scrubs so I can fast foward her acting. Won't be watching this at all.

Byron Hauck said...

I don't know what's wrong with everybody. It's not the best thing in the world, but if you're not laughing four or five times per episode I don't know what to do with you. If Busy Phillips's delivery in the pilot of "You left this at the bar, bitch!" didn't sell you, and you were impervious to "Monster!" you should probably just go watch Leno.

Of course, all you hater's needn't worry, since it's going to be cancelled because of its AWFUL name. Good one, ABC.

Jeffinator said...

Am I the only guy on the planet who caught the homage to "The Truman Show"?

When Ellie's husband shows up pretending to befriend Grayson with pizza and "Penn Pavels" beer (the same fictional brand from "The Truman Show"). He even adds Noah Emmerich's tagline: "That's really good beer!

Anonymous said...

Was the 2nd episode originally shot as the pilot? Crista Miller's character was referred to as the 'best friend' rather than sister as was the case in the first episode shown (she also referred to HER aunt who broke the hip - wouldn't have been THEIR aunt) and she seemingly slept with the 20 year old (among other things) in the first episode. Now she has a 10 date rule?

Alan Sepinwall said...

No, second episode. I don't remember any sister references. And Jules says at the start of this one that she's re-instating the 10-date rule because she feels she went too fast with the young guy from the pilot.

Anonymous said...

The only way Courtney could explain her over-acting is that she's trying to make up for her (and her neighbour's) immobilized faces. Lay off the botox ladies!

She's way overdoing it and it's coming off as crazy-Monica. Which is too bad, since I think it could be good otherwise.

I would cancel it from the pvr but my husband actually likes.

Anonymous said...

I like this ok. At least it is nice to have something light and funny on. One thing that is distracting me: Cox's character is a real estate agent who doesn't seem to own her own business, with a kid and husband who earns little to nothing (and takes rather than contributes support, in any case), and she lives in virtual mansion. Does that seem off to others?

Anonymous said...

Is Jules supposed to be 40? And she had a kid at 20, yet the kid is still in high school?

Pamela Jaye said...

she had him at 22, which still doesn't explain it. And her Paper Buddy! is still too John Dorian to me. It doesn't fit.

I'm recording it cause Bill created it, Crista's in it (she's toned Jordan down enough, but I still know it's her) and my brother circled it on the fall grid.
I need to make him watch it.

I know Once & Again was not a comedy, but the kids were only slightly embarrassed, not totally humiliated. (although I liked that the kid had the posters all over his room)

Also, comments about how awful you will look at 50... well, once you're 50, network TV doesn't care if they insult you anyway.