ABC Studios // 2010 // 467 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Patrick Bromley // September 7th, 2011
"What a great day! This calls for some celebration wine. Oh, sorry, this is also my there's-nothing-good-on-TV wine."
One of the better sitcoms you're probably not watching returns for a second season on DVD, still trying to convince you it's a show about a group of friends who hang out, goof around and get very drunk and not a show about older ladies trying to have sex with younger guys.
Here are the 22 episodes that make up Cougar Town: The Complete Second Season, spread out over three discs:
* "All Mixed Up" Jules (Courtney Cox, Scream) begins seeing a new therapist (guest star Jennifer Aniston, Just Go With It) with unconventional methods; Bobby (Brian Van Holt, Confidence) struggles with the relationship between Jules and Grayson (Josh Hopkins, G.I. Jane).
* "Let Yourself Go" Jules has to face the fact that Travis (Dan Byrd, Easy A) is leaving for college; Bobby gets computer lessons from Laurie (Busy Phillips, He's Just Not That Into You).
* "Makin' Some Noise" The group starts a neighborhood watch program; Ellie (Krista Miller, Scrubs) has issues with her new nanny.
* "The Damage You've Done" Grayson and Laurie finally come clean to Jules about their past hookup; Travis learns that his girlfriend hasn't been completely faithful.
* "Keeping Me Alive" Jules tries to help Bobby make some money so she can stop paying alimony.
* "You Don't Know How It Feels" Jules gets a visit from her dad (Ken Jenkins, The Sum of All Fears); Laurie tries to teach Travis how to enjoy Halloween; Bobby tries to be made guardian to Ellie and Andy's (Ian Gomez, Larry Crowne) baby.
* "Fooled Again: I Don't Like It" Everyone competes to give Jules the most meaningful birthday present.
* "Little Girl Blues" Everyone starts hanging out at Grayson's house, much to his frustration; Travis starts dating an older grad student (Collette Wolfe, 17 Again).
* "When the Time Comes" Jules is the first to say those three little words, but Grayson doesn't say them back; the gang celebrates Thanksgiving together.
* "The Same Old You" Jules tries to fix up Bobby's boat; Andy becomes Bobby's caddy in a tournament; Travis's girlfriend is uncomfortable with his and Laurie's relationship.
* "No Reason to Cry" Andy lets Laurie in on one of his inside jokes with Ellie; Jules and Grayson face relationship questions and animal deaths.
* "A Thing About You" Jules' friendship with Laurie is strained when she becomes a temporary houseguest; Bobby feels jealous when Travis goes to Grayson for "fatherly stuff."
* "Lost Children" Grayson accidentally offends Andy; Bobby begins dating a girl but tries to keep it a secret; the gang plays an epic game of hide and seek to teach Jules a lesson.
* "Cry to Me" Jules tries to get Grayson to show emotion; Andy takes Bobby out for Valentine's day to make his wife jealous; Travis takes special pictures of himself for his girlfriend.
* "Walls" Jules begins suspecting that Travis is going to propose to his girlfriend to keep her from moving to Chicago; Laurie and Bobby go into business together marketing Penny Can for the masses.
* "Baby's a Rock 'n Roller" Jules and Grayson babysit Stan; Andy acts as Laurie's wingman to help her get over a breakup.
* "You're Gonna Get It!" Jules and Bobby each suffer major embarrassments; Laurie competes against Ellie and Grayson in bar trivia.
* "Lonesome Sundown" The gang creates a council to determine punishments for each other; Jules makes a bet with Bobby and has to spend a weekend living on his boat.
* "Damaged by Love" Jules' dad comes back to town to help cheer up Travis, leading everyone to wind up a strip club; Jules and Bobby argue over who's the better parent; Andy's sister-in-law (Nia Vardolos, My Big Fat Greek Wedding) won't stop flirting with him.
* "Free Fallin'" Bobby has to make a big decision regarding the future of Penny Can; Jules tries to get Travis to go back to college.
* "Something Good Coming, Part 1" The gang follows Travis to Hawaii to get him to come back home.
* "Something Good Coming, Part 2" Still in Hawaii, Grayson continues to pressure Jules about kids; Laurie takes drastic measures to get Travis home.
I avoided the first season of the ABC sitcom Cougar Town when it aired in 2009, mostly because the premise failed to catch my interest and I had very little faith in ABC's ability to put a good comedy on the air. I caught up with the show while reviewing Season One for DVD Verdict, and was very pleasantly surprised -- not only was the show not at all what it claimed to be about (a fact that continues to haunt creator Bill Lawrence, who at one point was even seriously contemplating changing the name of the show to better reflect its content), but it was fast and funny and featured really solid ensemble work from the cast.
With the surprise element gone and my expectations better managed, Season Two of Cougar Town was a little bit of a come down from the strong freshman year. In one way, the show has settled even further into the kind of show it is -- a series about a surrogate family who spend a lot of time together drinking wine -- and that's to its benefit. At the same time, though, that means it has settled into familiarity more. For some shows, that works -- the consistency is comforting -- but for a show like Cougar Town, small reinventions are what help keep it afloat. That's what made the first season exciting; we were watching a show find its voice as it unfolded, and completely morph from something that likely wouldn't have lasted 12 episodes into a winning ensemble comedy that was so much better than we could have expected. Knowing just what to expect from Cougar Town takes a little bit of the fun out of it.
But that's a totally subjective reaction, because in many ways Cougar Town: The Complete Second Season represents a step forward for the single-camera sitcom. The ensemble is more cohesive, the running jokes more developed (the show could give How I Met Your Mother a run for its money in the running joke department) and the pacing even quicker. The second half of the season is stronger than the first, because real emotions are finally at stake. Bill Lawrence has always been good at balancing wacky comedy with more grounded drama (it was the best part of those first seasons of Scrubs), but Cougar Town stays away from the serious stuff for the most part. When characters being experiencing real heartbreak or have to make tough decisions, it gives the series some previously unseen depth. It also reminds us just how much we've come to care about these people and how invested we are in their lives. The show isn't as strong as the best half hour comedies on TV (Community or Louie), but it certainly beats a broad, three-camera show like Two and a Half Men. It's a shame that more people don't watch it, despite the best efforts of the cast and creators Bill Lawrence and Kevin Biegel to convince audiences that they hate the name Cougar Town and it doesn't represent the show. Even the opening title sequence makes fun of the title over and over again. Maybe viewers will finally get the picture in the upcoming season.
Cougar Town: The Complete Second Season arrives on a three-disc DVD set that's comparable to the Season One release. The 22 episodes are all presented in 1.781:1 anamorphic widescreen, and are appropriately bright and colorful to reflect the show's Florida sun-drenched photography. The 5.1 audio track does a good job with the dialogue but makes little use of the rear and surround channels, save for the occasional pop song on the soundtrack (which are much more scarce than on Scrubs, and that's the right choice). It's a technically sound DVD presentation, but it isn't going to change anyone's mind about the series.
The extras, on the other hand, are a little scarce, especially compared to what we've been getting from the season-length sets of shows like The Office and Parks and Recreation (which, to be fair, have spoiled us). There are a few deleted scenes and outtakes, a featurette called "(Still Called) Cougar Town," which again tries desperately to convince new viewers that the show is not what people think, and a collection of webisodes featuring Ian Gomez's Andy in a series of movie spoofs. Some group cast commentaries would have been fun, as would more contributions from co-creator Lawrence, who is always refreshingly honest and candid about the business of making a TV show. No such luck.
For whatever reason, Cougar Town isn't a show I'm able to watch week to week. I even tried to record all of Season Two on my DVR, but finally bailed on it after too many episodes were piling up without me ever feeling motivated to watch them. On DVD, though, it's totally enjoyable -- fast-paced, funny and, like the characters themselves, fun to hang out with. It's the ideal way to watch the show. See for yourself.
Review content copyright © 2011 Patrick Bromley; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: ABC Studios
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 467 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Deleted Scenes
* Official Site