December 19, 2012

Episode Review: HAPPY ENDINGS, "No-Ho-Ho"

I'll say it again. Happy Endings really knows how to pull off good-to-great holiday episodes, and thankfully "No-Ho-Ho" kept the hot streak alive.

After Jane was busted with a fake I.D., she came clean and admitted that she changed her date of birth because she was originally born on December 25th and was tired of Christmas overshadowing her birthday. To show their support, the gang decided to postpone Christmas in favor of celebrating Jane-mas. It took a little bit on convincing to get her on board, but she eventually did as long as they didn't let Christmas creep in, which meant that Max couldn't imbibe eggnog and Alex couldn't fulfill her unhealthy need to open presents. Unfortunately for Dave and Penny, they were kicked out because of his ringtone and her socks, but they had their own storyline this week so no harm, no foul. In spite of a few slip-ups, things were going as smooth as possible until Max's eggnog-filled camel back was punctured and everyone got soaked. An upset Jane took off and ended up stumbling across a group of other Christmas babies celebrating their birthdays at a bar. It looked like she had finally found her place, but things took a dark turn when the mob wanted to go around wrecking people's holiday decorations. Her run in with the crazies made her realize that she didn't have it all that bad.

While Brad was trying to keep everyone in line, Penny and Dave went off on their side adventure to find Pete the perfect present. Dave fancied himself to be a gift-whisperer and came up with the best idea ever, tickets to Arcade Fire. He even had an elaborate scavenger hunt planned, but he found Pete's present to Penny (a big ass candle) while placing clues. Thinking that was a horrible gift, Dave bought an alternate present but Pete stuck with the candle. As it turned out, his gift was a heartfelt gesture with a story behind it. Something about Contagion, killing Penny if she was dying and lighting a candle as big as her heart. An impressed Dave could only admire Pete's thoughtfulness and declare him the gift king.

On the surface, "No-Ho-Ho" was nothing special. Christmas baby stories are not one of the most used comedic tropes in the world but they're far from uncommon, so basing an entire episode on Jane's real birthday could've been a real letdown, but leave it to Happy Endings to make it work with a barrage of jokes that were all on-point. The success was partially due to Damon Wayans, Jr. taking point, but the rest of the ensemble (mainly Adam Pally and Elisha Cuthbert) also brought their A-games. My only minor quibble was having two Jane-centric episodes back-to-back which threw off the equilibrium ever so slightly.

Even the Penny and Dave sub-plot, which could have quickly devolved into typical "will they/won't they" non-sense, was able to stay on track. Sure, there were a few hints dropped about how Dave and Penny would function as a couple, but I was pleasantly surprised how the episode mostly focused on her relationship with Pete. We all know that the inevitable's coming, but I appreciate Happy Endings' slow-play approach to Penny and Dave.

Other Odds and Ends:
  • Brad's MILF fantasy was a tad disturbing.
  • Hip-Hop Santa!
  • I've never watched Tremé but I kinda want to thanks to Dave's explanation.
  • Who wants to see Alex's Love Actually gingerbread window display?
  • Apparently, Happy Endings' new approach to comedy writing is to name drop HBO shows. Are we watching Community all of a sudden?
  • The Hip-Hop Santa Dance-Off was probably the television highlight of the year.
  • Once again Nick Zano proved that he can turn in a likable performance with good writing.
  • "I thought I was married to a MILF."
  • Max: "You didn't like Ringling Brothers with Brothers?"
    Brad: "It would've been the greatest show on earf. Don't you dare laugh at that! OK, you can laugh a little bit."
    Everyone laughs
    Brad: "Racists!"
  • "Happy Birthday, Jane. And Jesus."
  • Brad: "Alex is going to keep her weird present-opening fetish under wraps. No pun intended."
    Alex: "I don't get it anyway."
    Brad: "And Max is going to be eggnog-stic for the day. Pun intended!"
    Max: "I'm not saying there is eggnog. I'm not saying there's not eggnog. What I am saying is there's no way to know for sure."
    Alex: "I really don't that one."
  • "Jurassic ParkJurassic Park. Newman gets killed bad." (to the tune of "Jingle Bells")
  • "I'm glad we got tossed out because now we have time to find the perfect present for Pete. Although, what is going to open on Christmas? Gas station? Drug store? Israel?"
  • "Is that egg nog? Are you back on the sweet 'n creamy?"
  • "I didn't vote for Obama! I couldn't respect his March Madness bracket!"
  • Dave: "Don't pepper spay my pee-pee, please!"
    Pete: "Please don't pepper spray my pee-pee. Please. I'm new, I'm just trying to fit in."
  • "What are you doing? What is this, Oz?"
  • "Recycle? What is this, Portland?"
This is going to sound sacrilegious, but part of me only wants Happy Endings to do holiday episodes with a few fillers here and there because this show really amps up the funny when it takes on these special times of year. And who knows, maybe that's exactly what we'll get when ABC cancels it and it ends up on some cable network. I'm looking at you, TBS.


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