I have an embarrassing confession to make. I definitely jumped the gun last week with the rating I gave Happy Endings, it was too high. I was just so happy that one of the best comedies was back on television that I let it cloud my judgment. Let’s be honest here, it really wasn’t that spectacular of an episode, especially for a season premiere. It felt more like a mid-season filler episode, rather than a strong, promising opener. This week’s episode “Sabado Free-Gante” sparked this realization, as it was infinitely better. It wasn’t perfect, nor was it the best the show has ever been, but it was back on the right track. There were continuously funny dialogue and character shenanigans and well thought out plotlines, rather than a few stand out quotes.
This should have been the premiere. The audience is given the repercussions of Brad losing his job. We see Dave and Alex caught in a limbo between wanting to be together for comfort’s sake, but also fearing that the commitment will cause them to become stuck. Penny is taking her life into her own hands, and Max’s storyline is open for finding another ridiculous job, such as the limo business. Jane, on top of taking a new career step is also reinforcing just why she’s the secret comedic genius of this show. This is how you reintroduce your characters, wrap up old plotlines and introduce new ones all the while generating laughs. Showrunner David Caspe has always handled his show with the right amount of absurdity and reality and this episode exemplified how.
But on to the most pressing issues.
What in the ever hell is growing out of Dave’s head? Initially I believed that his new haircut was all a part of Dave’s sad sack humor, where he tries so hard to get something right and just always seems to miss by an inch. Now I’m actually concerned that I’m going to have to accept this new beauty development as not being a plotline.
Yes, I am that shallow. On with the show.
The episode begins with a bit of an homage to last year’s Halloween episode, which was one of the best installments that this show has ever produced and caught many a floundering critics eye. I don’t think I’ve laughed nearly as hard since that episode. It was smart of the show to throw in a quick two-minute acknowledgment to the holiday, rather than try to create the hilarity of last year’s. This year shows the gang dressed up as the Jackson 5 as marionettes with Brad being Joe Jackson and leading the way. It’s short but effective, especially with Dave as Latoya.
Brad this week is bored of not having enough money to have the fun he used to have. Max, an expert and frugalness and maybe a little thievery, tells him that he can help him have fun as a hobo.
Brad and Max are a pairing I’ll never say no to. They work too well together and Adam Pally and Damon Wayans Jr. are perfectly matched, both of their styles of humor bettering the others.
While it’s a bit of a useless storyline since we all know how easily Brad can get a job from last weeks, its complete fun nonetheless. Although I have to wonder if viewers are supposed to watch under the assumption that the reason Brad doesn’t have a job is so that he can please Jane.
The funniest bit of their storyline is when the two, wanting food, crash recovering addicts meeting with Max apparently having given the same sob story at each. At the AA meeting, the over eaters, and the sex addiction meetings. The best line of the night came from Max while speaking to another sex addiction attendee.
“I bet you wish this coffee was a vagina.” Followed by Adam Pally giving the cup one of the best disgusted faces I’ve seen.
The duo continue their day of bumming it by signing up for groups to get free t-shirts, and heckling a man twice their size until the man chases them down, completing Brad’s need of a trainer.
It’s all fun and games until one of Brad’s old co-workers runs into him and mistakens him as being now homeless. Embarrassed, Brad thinks again about what he’s doing in this situation. Again, most viewers are too considering he did seem to obtain a new job fairly easy. Oh the loopholes of television. Brad and Max have a discussion that settles his fears for now. He says that he just needs to find a job that will keep him in the happy medium, a job that one by eighty hour work weeks and will allow him to spend time with friends and family.
Penny, this week, is attempting a different type of accomplishment; she wants to by a car with no help from anyone. However, Jane can tell she’s about to make a big purchase (apparently Penny gave this away by her breast twitching) and says that she’s an amazing bargainer.
This allows a cutaway, almost cartoonish scene, with a flashback of when Jane managed to bargain her way into getting a huge piñata for Max. There are multiple scenes of Max and Dave hopelessly and hilariously trying to break into it. If you were in near tears from laughing at this bizarrely fantastic scene, I completely understand.
Jane manages in the end to worm her way in and begins to take over. Eliza Coupe is fantastic and her style of subtle, comedic physicality. She is a type A personality but isn’t the straight woman character. It’s the way that she eases her way through the car dealership while Penny is a nervous wreck that is so fantastic and wonderfully juxtaposes the two characters, both of whom are their own level of crazy. Penny is always better when her slapstick antics are dialed back a bit.
After a long trial and error of trying to get her dream car, Penny takes advantage of Jane having fallen asleep while waiting, and signs the papers to Jane’s dismay. The two of them have a heart-to-heart in the back of the car, where Jane apologizes and commends Penny for buying the car and managing to weasel an extra deal out of the dealership because of her crying. The best gag comes though, after Jane stealthily escapes the car without Penny’s notice, and Penny believes that she has turned into a fly.
Alex and Dave’s big decision of the week is to buy an apartment together.
But, why? Excuse me while I go roll my eyes continuously.
It wouldn’t be so bad if we hadn’t already had an Alex and Dave themed episode last week and if we weren’t very likely going to get another one next week. The problem is that this storyline holds no real surprise. We all can see that they’re moving too fast, that they’re going to end up unhappy, realize that they only migrated towards each other out of comfort and then boom, storyline completed.
The problem is that the two characters together is the least exciting pairing of the show. Both characters are fine, excusing my immense loathing of Dave’s hair, when they’re not stuck together. Elisha Cuthbert in particular thrived last season when she was allowed to be more than Dave’s prop to unhappiness and moping and instead played a very funny, odd and ditsy character without playing on stereotypes. Alex is ten times as interesting when she’s paired with someone like Max or Jane. And while Dave is still the weakest written of the six, he’s funny when he’s allowed to be someone other than the bland straight man and works well when he is either the butt of the joke, or having to deal with Max’s ill thought out plans.
The episode ends with the two getting a new apartment, although by their awkward looks and downing of their drinks it was obviously a bad idea, and with Jane getting a visit from a man from the car dealership offering her a job.
One of these storylines promises potential comedy genius. Can you guess which?
This was a good episode, although not amazing. It falls into some typical comedic pitfalls just like shows such as Friends has in the past. How are these characters able to afford the cars and the apartments that they do? Jane and Brad we have an understanding of. But Dave is the guy in the food truck and Alex is the girl who runs the consistently empty boutique. How on earth did they manage that apartment? And Max, now that he doesn’t have Dave paying his rent, how will he afford his loft? I’m rooting for the limo service.
Also, and this may just be a small quibble of mine, but one of these days when a character in a movie or television show falls through a full window of glass, I want to see the actual repercussions of falling on top of the shards. That isn’t an accident that allows one to come out unscathed but hey, if big budgeted films are still doing it, I can’t fault a sitcom that must love getting usage out of their pratfall glass.
I fully trust that Caspe knows what he’s doing with this show and can only hope that this season continues on a steady uprise just like it did with the last. Figure Dave out, get rid of the romance between him and Alex, and showcase Max, Jane and Brad, and the show is set.