November 13, 2012

Episode Review: HAPPY ENDINGS, "Boys II Menorah"

Even a fan of Happy Endings like myself has to admit that Season 3 has not been as strong out of the gate as Season 2, but I'm confident that "Boys II Menorah" was the show's first step towards recapturing what made last year so good.

The episode opened up at a bar mitzvah where the gang was watching Max perform as a "bar mitzvah hype guy." He was doing his usual routine until Brad joined in and the crowd went crazy, and Penny thought that they should team up. Things were going well until Brad used Max's patented move, the Dreidel Spin, which of course created a schism between them. After everything came to a head at a gig Brad booked on the side, the two made up while Penny almost inappropriately flashed a group of boys in order to get a good review.

Elsewhere, Alex was starting to feel like her new relationship with Dave was heading towards to the same place it occupied the first time around. They lacked the kind of spark that kept Brad and Jane going, so she tried to kickstart the romance, but every attempt ended badly. She was about to give up when Dave went to Jane for advice. She clued him in and suggested that he woo Alex by bringing Paris, the place she wanted to visit most after Smurf Village, to her. Together, they planned an elaborate surprise that included cute plane tickets. Since it was Alex, she assumed that the ticket was real, so she went to the airport and hilarity ensued. Their antics shut down O'Hare for two hours, but everything was fine after Dave reassured Alex that they wouldn't fall into their old patterns because they're different people now.

Honestly, "Boys II Menorah" may have relied too heavily on some worn-out sitcom clichés, but there were so many jokes that landed for me that I found myself laughing throughout most of the episode. Obviously, funny things happen anytime Brad and Max are paired up together, so their stint as a bar mitzvah hyping tag team had me in stitches. I just hope the writers keep this duo in their back pockets for a while and don't go the the well too often and rob them of their inherent charm. And even though Penny was on the sidelines for most of the ep and was shoe-horned into Brad and Max's story, Casey Wilson also got off some decent one-liners, so I was happy in the end.

The Dave and Alex B-story was not as strong though because of the aforementioned tropes that the episode utilized. Most of the action revolved on the lack of communication gag that led to zany misadventures, and the slapstickiness of some of their scenes (Dave getting paint in his eyes and Jane getting tased) all felt routine and stale. Now, I don't blame Happy Endings for pulling out tried-and-true jokes because it's so hard for modern comedies to do anything truly new, but the show works best when it either subverts the clichés or makes them feel fresh. Unfortunately, this subplot did neither. That said, I thought that the performances were funny in spite of their familiarity.

Other Odds and Ends
  • Not gonna lie, there was something disturbingly hot about Penny taking sexy pictures for a thirteen year old boy's "older brother."
  • How could Dave turn down a paint fight with Alex?
  • I know that part of Alex's charm is her dim naivete, but they were really pushing it this time around.
  • Usually, I'm not a fan of bossy Jane, but this tamed down version of the character worked well, and how can you not love Eliza Coupe.
  • Apparently, dumb people eating candles is having a big week thanks to Happy Endings and another show that must not be named. Just lazy.
  • Also, did Penny really have to get locked in a closet with five underage boys?
  • "Plus, I have always wanted to marry a Jewish guy. They're just like so cool with their leather jackets, and their jeans, and their ability to turn jukeboxes on and off just by punching them..."
  • "You will be the hottest mixed raced dance crew since Paula Abdul and MC Skat Kat."
  • "It's all about the angles."
  • "White people love black people. Why do you think we've been wholesale ripping off your culture for decades? It's out of love... and greed, but mostly love. Love money."
  • "Look at that man move. This is some good material for the old buzz bank."
  • Penny: "I don't get it. What is it about me? I'm like Jewish boy crack."
    Jane: "Well, you're a goy with vaguely Semitic looks who gives off a real strong vibe that you know your way around a Handrew Jackson."
  • Dave (about Brad and Penny): "What are those two talking about?"
    Jane: "I dunno. They have their own thing going on this week."
  • "They get bigger but they don't get better, Shanna."
  • "I'm old Alex. I constantly wear sweatpants and phone it in when it's my turn to go downstairs."
It'd be easy to say that "Boys II Menorah" was phoning it because we got so many tired tricks that every sitcom has dusted off since the dawn of television, but the rapid-fire jokes were coming fast and furious, and enough of them stuck the landing to keep me entertained. Plus, it gets a pass for having the greatest episode title of all-time.


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