This episode, as you might be able to figure out, is airing way out of sequence. Like, waaaay out of sequence. It was supposed to air last spring as part of season two, and got held over for whatever reason and slotted in here so Happy Endings could keep up with its twice-a-week schedule while shooting season three normally.
On the one hand, it’s nice that this fun half hour saw the light of day, but it did have an inevitably jarring edge to it. The show had this problem before, with the wacko scheduling of season one that pushed a bunch of early episodes to the end of the year and vaguely tried to make them work as flashbacks.
In all, the differences were not that noticeable. Alex is in her old apartment, obviously, but we barely see any of it. Penny is very much a single lady on the prowl going for the whole “Year of Penny” thing, and now, in the middle of season three, she has a boyfriend, so there’s that. I noticed even more subtle stuff with Alex’s character-she’s vaguely level-headed here and the leader of the group, giving motivational speeches and so forth. It’s not completely out of the ordinary, but I do think it’d be handled a little differently now, since her character has gotten more broad and surreal (in a good way).
But, whatever. This is a perfectly funny episode that had a bunch of nice surprises-Matt Walsh as the weary kickball announcer who has never seen anything so shocking in his 36 hours on the job. Or the return of Seth Morris (who hasn’t appeared once in season three thanks to his Go On commitments) as the psychotic Scotty, absolutely the best recurring character this show ever cooked up. His weak spine and knees (“I need steroids!”) reminded me a little of Morris’ most famous character, Bob Ducca, and that tickled me plenty (if you don’t know the character, type it into YouTube. You won’t be disappointed).
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As much as I love Happy Endings, I have to admit that recapping it twice a week is going to get old fast, especially when the episodes drastically vary in terms of quality. That’s not to say that “Ordinary Extraordinary Love” was a bad outing for the show per se, but it couldn’t keep up with the one that just occurred just two nights ago.
Now that Jane’s the breadwinner thanks to her job at the Car Czar and Brad’s continued unemployment (despite the fact that he had a job when the season started and quit for some reason), he’s feeling like his manhood’s being threatened. To prove that he still wears the pants, Brad decided to fix a dimmer switch instead of calling an electrician and of course Dave had to be involved. When things ended horribly, the two friends accused the other of being the reason due to their lack of machismo, and ended up staging the Man-Am Games, which was interrupted by Jane who eventually healed her man’s bruised ego.
Speaking of Jane, she was off on her own adventure with Max and Derrick. Max was still in a rut and didn’t know how to meet guys. The solution was for him to figure out which gay subculture he fit into, but he was struggled with finding his place. Leave it to Jane to plan a night that involved the three of them hitting up every event being thrown by various categories of gay males, but Max didn’t feel a part of any of them. Instead of moping, he decided to create his own niche (optimistic, red-velvet walruses) by throwing a mixer. Just when it looked like his plan was a bust, a cute guy wondered into the bar because he was curious about the name and because he too didn’t fall into the pre-existing types.
Lastly, Alex sold a dress to a famous pop star, and Penny brainstormed an idea to use it as a way to get some publicity for the boutique. Since Alex knew where the singer was going for dinner, Penny slipped that information to the paparazzi. After being mobbed, the pop princess went ballistic and ended up breaking a camera before jumping all over Penny’s car while screaming the name of Alex’s store. Not to be deterred, Penny spun the bad press into an opportunity by promoting the shop as ground zero for the meltdown.
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Right before the holidays, ABC broke the news that it would be replacing 666 Park Avenue with its Wednesday night comedies. While some were excited about getting two new episodes of Happy Endings a week, it was a clear sign that the network’s lost faith in the show and needed to burn it off as quickly as possible. It’s just a shame that “Fowl Play/Date” was a pretty strong outing for the show and most fans probably didn’t even know that it was on.
When Alex got tickets to the Rom-Com Con, Penny and Brad helped her get ready for her trip (and he had a treasure trove of HappyEndings308 memorabilia that needed autographed), but things took a wacky turn when they accidentally broke one of her childhood heirlooms. Instead of coming clean, they concocted a scheme to fix it while Alex was away, but it only got crazier when they ended up killing her racist parrot with glue fumes.
From there, Penny became the mastermind of a massive cover-up that hinged on Alex believing that Tyler plummeted to his own death after becoming fed up with her diverse group of friends and trying to fly off but couldn’t because of his clipped wings. At Tyler’s memorial service, guilt took over and Penny and Brad came clean, but it turned out that they were not responsible because the bird died of alcohol related complications due to fact that he was Alex’s drinking buddy.
Meanwhile, Jane and Dave sensed that Max was down in the dumps because he was lonely, so they decided to fix him up with a couple of their friends. Of course, their good intentions quickly morphed into a competition to see whose suitor was better for Max, but it turned out that neither was because they were too much like them and Max had no interest in dating Dave or Jane.
Even when they’re actively trying to avoid celebrating Christmas, the Happy Endings gang can’t help but put on a great party. Well, “great” might be a stretch, especially considering your feelings on getting sprayed with egg nog. I should probably explain.
Jane is a Christmas baby. In “No-Ho-Ho” we learned that she’s been lying about her birthday for years, choosing a date in a completely different month to avoid getting overshadowed by the holiday. I can’t say that I blame her for making the swap- Christmas babies get stiffed on gifts. They have to share the attention with the hustle and bustle of the holiday. All of the other kids are too busy to come to your birthday party. I was supposed to be a Halloween baby, which would’ve sucked the fun out of both Halloween and my birthday; Jane has it even worse.
My favorite part of Jane revealing that she had changed her birthday was that I’m pretty sure even Alex was shocked. Alex not remembering such a detail about her sister’s life is pretty standard for the character. Which I love. Though I guess Alex is the younger one…
When the group discovered that Jane had been lying about her birthday all these years, they decided to throw her a birthday party on her real birthday, making every effort to prevent Christmas from creeping in. Unfortunately, they all forgot that you should never surprise Jane. The sting of pepper spray (in the eyes for Brad, Max, and Penny and in the pants for Dave) will make that a lesson learned the hard way.
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Whenever I’m asked to describe Happy Endings to a friend that hasn’t seen it, words tend to escape me. I mean, it started out as a show about a guy humorously getting left at the altar (that’ a thing, right?) but with time, it became something much more. Weirdly enough, that is often at the expense of the plot of Happy Endings. I mean, it truly is a show that’s pretty much about nothing. I’m totally okay with that but it is what it is. This week on Happy Endings, there’s nothing really at stake again, but I can’t find myself too broken up about that.
The main focus of the episode is on Jane in her attempt to break into the ranks of the Car Czar’s boys club. Yeah, remember that one time when Jane just up and quit her successful, high-paying job doing? whatever she did and became a car salesperson? If not, it might be because you didn’t watch the last 30 seconds of Happy Endings two weeks ago. Or maybe it was because it was never mentioned at all in last week’s episode? Whatever the reason may be, yeah, Jane being a car saleswoman? That’s a thing now. Evidently the only way to make it big with the Car Czar, the incomparable Rob Corddry, and his band on non-descript cronies is to insult your spouse.
There are a couple of cute moments when Brad plays up his trophy wife status, including a squealing potbelly pig in what appears to be a sailor suit. However, the bulk of this is just sort of awkwardly mean-spirited. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love a good joke at someone else’s expense as much as the next person, arguably more than the next person, but it’s just such an uncomfortable storyline. Maybe I’m still not willing to let this whole “Jane abandoning her job to work for the Car Czar” thing, which seems totally out of place for her control freak, Type-A personality. Whatever it is, something about the main storyline for this week’s Happy Endingsjust doesn’t really work for me.
Luckily, the B plots are puling double duty this week. Penny, in her usual way (Classic Penny?) finds a seemingly perfect guy, but her chance for romance is given a significant? handicap when she is forced to wear a helmet from her fall down the stairs (Remember that? Season 3 premiere? Anyone?) that resulted in a concussion.
Well, the Day of Thankfulness, as Dave’s Navajo ancestors would say, is upon us and this week’s episode of Happy Endings has given us plenty to be thankful for. After the last few episodes, it was hard to tell where the show was going. Alex and Dave back together again (no shock there) paired with an uncomfortably casual career change for the Type-A Personality Jane among other things, Happy Endings was having a hard time findings its voice again.
Luckily, viewers will recognize a return to all the things that made them fall in love with the show in the first place with their Thanksgiving episode, “More Like Stanksgiving.”
Honestly, Happy Endings is at its best when it’s a holiday episode. Anybody remember the wonder that is Max in a Baby Bjorn in last year’s “Spooky Endings?” Or how about Alex’s Rain Man-like knowledge of Saint Valentinius Valentine in “The Saint Valentine’s Day Maxssacre?” I’ll be real with you, folks. I’ve even considered making up a holiday for August just so the show has another holiday episode to make. “More Like Stanksgiving” is simply proof that it needs to happen. It’s the first episode we’ve seen in awhile where everyone seems to have an actual storyline.
Okay, maybe Dave’s isn’t the most prominent, but both Alex and Dave work better for me in smaller doses, so “More Like Stanksgiving” uses him well. Still, for the bulk of the cast, the “stuff out of the stuffing bag” (another brilliant turn-of-phrase by Alex) in the form of the long-lost Real World: Sacramento. For starters, we find out that Brad and Max met on the set of the show, a clever nod to the essentially non-existent origin story of this group of friends. But that isn’t all that is revealed over the course of the episode.
After an extra long wait, Happy Endings returned to our screens with not one but TWO Miami Heat jokes. It’s safe to say that, as a New Yorker, I was in love with “Cazsh Dummy Spillionaires“. Happy Endings is definitely one of the most underrated television shows and the fact that it’s one ABC is probably the most surprising part about it. The show can ultimately get away with anything. It has storylines about Dave’s addiction to V-neck shirts, Max practically being a bear around Spring, and Brad’s secret “work wife.” The writers and cast know that they can get away with such outlandish storylines simply because Happy Ending’s isn’t alienating anyone as their audience has already been found.
There are high expectations after last season’s success among critics. It’s a tough act to follow and after the season two finale the show left viewers with a lot of questions of how and where the show will go next with the information left to us. Would Alex and Dave reconcile? Would audiences accept that if they did? Would a potential love triangle between those two and Penny result in a disastrous storyline that stripped away the premise’s original innovation and with me taking back every kind word I ever said about the show?
With that plea out of the way, we can get to the episode itself. It probably won’t be remembered as one of the series’ standout installments, but does effectively ease us back into it’s style and pace. How much you enjoy it really comes down to how much you enjoy Dave and Alex, since their ongoing relationship issues are the week’s main focus. Announcing in the first couple of minutes that they’re casually dating (“we knew that”), they realize by the end that you can’t always go backwards in a relationship. With a jilted groom and runaway bride in their past, how can they ever go back to being casual?
As much as I like Brad and Jane, I was a little annoyed by their plotline because it just felt off from the get go. I get that Jane loved being in the power position now that Brad was unemployed, and I genuinely believed that she wanted him to do whatever made him happy, but being annoyed by him working was asinine. Yes, her reactions had more to do with the fact that he wasn’t being honest and that she was afraid that they’d go back to not having as much time to spend together, but it was so obvious that she loved being the only source of income, and I couldn’t shake the feeling that he quit his job just to make her happy. At the end of the day, the outcome of this one rang extremely false to me.
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Meet the Parrots
Tonight’s episode, entitled ‘Meet The Parrots’ was about Zachary Knighton’s Dave’s quest to try to accept that his father ‘Big Dave’ (Michael McKean), who is a recently divorcee, is moving on. What makes it a bit awkward is that he is moving on with Penny (Casey Wilson)’s mother Dana, (Megan Mullally). Meanwhile, in a b-plot line, eccentric blonde Alex (Elisha Cuthbert) has lassoed Max and Brad (MVP’s Adam Pally and Damon Wayans Jr. respectively) into tailing a possible scam involving the Chinese Restaurant across the street, seen in something like in the television show The Wire.
Dave’s excited about his dad, Big Dave (Michael McKean) coming up to visit him, but gets a shock when he brings along his new girlfriend, Penny’s mom, Dana (“Will & Grace’s” Megan Mullally). Penny’s ecstatic that she finally has the sibling she always wanted in Dave, which seems like a silly sitcom subplot since Big Dave and Dana are just dating, not engaged. For the rest of the episode, Penny does dumb sibling stuff like giving Dave wet willies and wedgies (sorry Dave isn’t wearing underwear there, Pen…) making for some forced and awkward scenes that never are as funny as the writers intended.
To support this new lifestyle, Big Dave wants to go to a holistic expo before the Cubs convention. Thank goodness they do because Ed Begley, Jr. is there selling soap (?)! Dvae gets very upset, grouches the whole time and is even rude to Mr. Begley. Penny’s mom encourages him to sing his angry feelings and though Big Dave is on board with all this now, D-Minor (best nickname possible for this situation) runs away. Literally. When they finally find him, he’s in his childhood bedroom, which now belongs to a young black girl. Penny and Jane find him and Penny tries to console him, since she’s been through divorce too. But Dave just might not be ready to accept his dad’s new life. Fortunately, he makes it back home just before the new couple leaves for the airport and agrees to at least talk it out with Big Dave. The Daves then closes out the episode by creating a new breakfast sandwich for Ed Begley, Jr.: the “Egg Begley, Jr.” Too bad he’s is a vegetarian and hates all of Dave’s meat centric truck. (Sidenote: EBJ is actually super into the environmental movement and even had a show on Planet Green, which only makes this cameo more awesome.)