December 12, 2012

Episode Review: HAPPY ENDINGS, "To Serb with Love"

While I have to give "To Serb with Love" some credit for being a capable episode of comedic television, it wasn't up to Happy Endings usual high standards and was the sit-commiest offering to date, which wouldn't necessarily a bad thing if the majority of the jokes landed. Unfortunately, there were more misses than hits this time around.

Mr. Kerkovich's mattress store was about to celebrate its 20th anniversary, so naturally Jane was in charge of coordinating the festivities. Everything was coming together nicely, but she was worrying about the speech she had to give because her father usually didn't respond to heartfelt gestures and was a hard person to make laugh unless mallets and watermelons were involved. She saw this as a challenge and was determined to come up with the perfect joke, but Brad ended up using it as an icebreaker after he was left alone with his father-in-law. While in panic mode, Jane went full Gallagher but ended up knocking herself unconscious when the mallet backfired. Luckily, her slapstick routine worked and her father got a good laugh from it.

While Jane was coming up with ways to make her father laugh, Alex was trying to dodge having to tell her family that she was back with Dave. Originally, she let him off the hook but Penny convinced him that Alex really wanted him there, so he crashed the party. Things were obviously awkward but Alex came clean, and Dave insisted on telling them but panicked after people started giving him a hard time for being left at the alter. In the end, he decided to also tell the truth and announced to everyone that he and Alex were officially a couple.

Finally, Penny and Max were off on their own little adventure this week. Max has been feeling left out because he's the only single person left in the group, but he counted on Penny ruining her relationship with Pete to make him feel better. When it became clear that the group's favorite punching bad was actually doing well with her new boyfriend, Max committed himself to finding a new hot mess to entertain him. Enter Nicole (aka Nickel since a nickel's worth five times of a penny). Much like Jane, Max's plan ended up failing but not before Penny once again sabotaged her relationship by making a list of Pete's shortcomings. In classic sit-com style, he found the list and it looked like things were over for P&P Romance Factory, but Max swooped in to save the day by helping Pete remember Penny's greatness.

Like I mentioned earlier, there was not anything egregiously wrong with "To Serb with Love" because it was a decent enough attempt, but watching the gang run through some very familiar paces ended up taking me out of the episode momentarily. Sure, I see some comedic value in Jane dressing up like Gallagher and owning the slap-stickiness of the routine, but it's still lazy comedy and the show gave into the same thing it was supposedly mocking. The same could be said about Dave and Alex trying to keep their relationship a secret from her family because it all ended up in tried, uncomfortable moments.

But the worst offender by far was Penny's plot about her once again ruining her relationship with a list of her boyfriend's faults no less. Now, I'm sure that Happy Endings takes a small amount of pride in being compared to Friends, but to rip off one of its plot points and actually make it less effective is no small feat. At least there was a point to Ross making his list; the same cannot be said about Penny. When it was all said and done, Penny's actions didn't feel organic to her character and they were just an excuse to stir up trouble. As for Max, I usually don't get too up in arms when he's at his most selfish but there was something off-putting about his antics during this one. Maybe I don't get as much pleasure out of my friend's misfortunes. But his nickel vs. penny joke was pretty funny.

Other Odds and Ends:
  • Speaking of Nicole, I hope we see her again.
  • I'll say it again: Alex eating is never not funny. And I was glad to see the origin of her eating habits.
  • It's just too bad that they pulled out the trusty "mother/daughter saying the same thing at the same time" joke.
  • That said, seeing Alex and her mom seduce the carver was worth it.
  • It's a shame that Kiefer wasn't available to play Mr. Kerkovich.
  • Honestly, Penny's bit about talking to herself in the mirror made me want to see her get taken down a notch or two.
  • How is it that Nick Zano is so much better on Happy Endings as Pete than he is as Johnny on 2 Broke Girls? Wait, I answered my own question.
  • Best Sight Gag of the Night: Alex rolling around her gigantic sausage. It's actually sexier than it sounds.
  • "Oh my god, you're insane. And I love it. And I want to party with you forever."
Look, I don't expect Happy Endings to transcend comedy because that's a tall order for any show, and I don't even mind that it sometimes has to rely heavily on well-worn tropes, but it needs to really bring the funny to make up for it. At the end of the day, "To Serb with Love" let the clich├ęs do all of the work and that's not what I watch this show for.

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