January 7, 2013

Episode Review: HAPPY ENDINGS, "Fowl Play/Date"

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 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. It didn't really matter anyway because Max was able to find a guy on his own, but everything was ruined when Jane and Dave's inability to accept Max's rejection of their fix-ups ended up interfering his date. Luckily for them, Max was able to forgive them for their meddling, and he may have dodged a bullet because his guy was a tad bit off to begin with (or at least by Jane and Dave's standards).

Admittedly, neither storyline sounds all that original or captivating, and the Jane and Dave B-plot was a little too sit-commy for its own good, but the performances once again made everything work, as did the non-stop jokes that were flying at the audience at a bajillion miles a second. Honestly, the amount of set-ups and punchlines zooming across the screen was a bit overwhelming even for someone who's calibrated to appreciate this kind of comedy, but the sheer insanity of it all somehow elevated the episode to the next level.

Speaking of taking things to the next level, Casey Wilson and Damon Wayans, Jr. were an insanely hysterical tag-team who took an inherently silly idea and sold every bit of it. These two don't usually get a ton of time on their own to make magic happen, which is a bummer since they worked so brilliantly off one another. That said, their lack of screen time together may be a blessing in disguise because trying to keep up with them was dizzying.

Other Odds and Ends:

  • I don't want to dwell on it, but the Max/Jane/Dave storyline didn't quite land for me because it was too broad and a little lazy, and Dave being all competitive felt out-of-character. I'm probably wrong about that last bit, but seeing him get all huffy because Max didn't pick his guy was jarring.
  • I was surprised that it took so long for Tyler to make his return. I suppose it was good that the show didn't overuse the gimmick, but his introduction was one of the highlights of Season 2 and I wish we had seen more of him.
  • Alex and Brad's love for romantic comedies was another good callback that hasn't been utilized to its fullest potential.
  • And we got the return of Dave's poor songwriting skills!
  • The random diner's annoyance with the gang's convention gag was a nice bit of meta commentary. Sure, seeing their antics on TV's funny but it would probably be annoying in real life.
  • I'd watch Heat 2: It's Getting Hot Up in Herr.
  • Of course Alex eats birthday cake every night.
  • When did we all turn on John Mayer?
  • A sex dream involving the Van Gundys? Shudder.
  • "On behalf of all Navajo Cubs fans I say, not cool bird!"
  • "Give me my VHS!"
  • "Ty-ty's a little ti-tired, arentcha?"
  • "We have all the same interests. Love Ryan Reynolds, hate Ryan Reynolds' movies."
  • "Butt full of bigotry."
  • "I don't control the clouds! I'm not Thor!"
  • "I had to give Tyler ritas, it was Taco Tuesday. He hated Mexicans, but he loved their food."
ABC's decision to air Happy Endings on Sunday nights doesn't bode well for the show's chances at a fourth season, which would be a real disappointment because it's one of the best comedies on television when its firing on all cylinders, and "Fowl Play/Date" was a good example of how genius it can be in spite of some minor flaws.


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