A review of last night's "Cougar Town" - a show that continues to display an impressive creative growth curve - coming up just as soon as I emerge from my chrysalis...
The headline news for "Rhino Skin" is obviously the quasi-"Friends" reunion of Courteney Cox and Lisa Kudrow, and that part of the episode worked just fine. If you watched "The Comeback" (which I couldn't stand but respected, if that makes sense) or have seen Kudrow's indie film work, you know she was the most versatile, fearless member of the "Friends" cast. So here she had no problem throwing herself into the role of vicious dermatologist Dr. Evans, and there wasn't even a hint of the Phoebe/Monica dynamic in her scenes with Cox as Jules.
But what really struck me about the episode was how confident the show has become in its chaotic storytelling style, in its ability to quickly set up funny but weird jokes (like Laurie's fascination with the First Name/Last Name situation), and, especially, to be able to break down and psychoanalyze the characters without ever seeming preachy or getting in the way of the jokes.
So we had the brilliant subplot about Andy schooling Travis on reading and reacting to women's moods (and being right at every turn, where the lamer, more predictable route would be for him to screw things up). We had Scott Foley in his second episode already being treated like a fact of life for Jules and the show, content to be in the background and make sarcastic asides until called on for more in the final Scrabble scene. We had Grayson being nice to Laurie and telling her a truth about men (that hotness counts more than couth) every bit as universal as what Andy was teaching Travis about women. And we had the usual good jokes about Bobby's white trashiness (the vases of wine), Ellie and Laurie's dislike of each other (the six-foot buffer zone whenever Jules isn't around), etc.
Bill Lawrence admitted back in the summer that the felt the original cut of the pilot felt like a show about women obviously written by men. And there were definitely times early in the season where the male characters seemed to be walking away with what was supposed to be a female-centric show. Now, though, "Cougar Town" feels just like any Lawrence comedy when it's a clicking: a show about weird, funny people, written by weird, funny people.
What did everybody else think?