A sense of decency prevented Judge P.S. Colbert from using any of his "Happy Endings" jokes.
Our reviews of Happy Endings (published November 29th, 2005), Happy Endings: The Complete First Season (published September 28th, 2011), and Happy Endings: The Complete Second Season (published October 6th, 2012) are also available.
W.T.F. Murray Abraham?!
Check out the titles of the twenty three episodes that make up Happy Endings: The Complete Third Season:
• "Cazsh Dummy Spillionaires"
Do they sound snarky enough for you? How many in-jokes did you get? If nothing else, this warp-speed, time-tripping meld of Friends and Family Guy (flashbacks, reveries, alternate universe happenings—these folks cover a lot of ground on a per-episode basis!) deserves to be called "the hardest working sitcom in show business."
This reviewing assignment served as my introduction to the series, and I had a sinking feeling while watching the first two eps, which, frankly, struck me as more breakneck-paced than knee-slapping or rib-tickling. Where was "the funniest show on television" that I'd read so much about? This joined-at-the-hip sextet seemed less like best friends than an Improv troupe—a lot of the "pop-culture references" were nothing more than name checks, and if a joke misfired, someone would merely acknowledge it ("Too soon?") before moving straight onto the next one. After all, when you've got six people constantly mugging, prat-falling, double-taking, and one-upping (there are no "straight men" here—laugh lines are followed by laugh-lines), something's bound to stick to the wall, right? Sure, I let out a giggle or two.
I don't know. Maybe the cast needed time for their meds to kick in, or maybe it was me, but starting with "Boys II Menorah," featuring Brad (Damon Wayans, Jr., New Girl) and Max (Adam Pally, The To Do List), striving to become the preeminent mixed-race hype team on the Bar Mitzvah circuit, it was like: Wham!—featuring George Michael—I was under a spell, and fell down into the rabbit hole, laughing all the way.
I'd like to think that I retained just enough equilibrium to judge this ADHD-TV show fairly. The scattershot, everybody-firing-on-all-cylinders-simultaneously approach ensured that some duds would fly into the mix, and despite the fact that he's probably the funniest cast member, Pally affects the most obnoxiously exaggerated Chicaygo Yaccksent this side of Jami Gertz in Still Standing, though in his defense, Pally isn't actually from Chicago!
For those keeping score: Brad is still married to Jane (Eliza Coupe, Scrubs); On and off again lovers Alex (Elisha Cuthbert, My Sassy Girl) and Dave (Zachary Knighton, The Hitcher) are on and off and on and off, again and again; Penny's (Casey Wilson, Bride Wars) history of self-induced head traumas catches up with her, and she's (temporarily) confined to a helmet, per doctor's orders, and Max is still gay.
Stunt casting? But, of course. Michael McKean and Megan Mullally reprise their roles as Dave's father and Penny's mother, respectively; Christopher McDonald ()Happy Gilmore) and Julie Hagerty (Airplane!) appear twice as the Kerkoviches, parents of Alex and Jane; Stephanie March (Law And Order: Special Victims Unit) shows up in the season finale as Alex and Jane's previously never-referred-to older sister, Brooke, and then things get real stunt-casty, with pop-ins from RuPaul, David Alan Grier, Abby Elliott, Brian Austin Green, Zack from Saved By The Bell (Sorry, Mark-Paul Gosselaar), and Tom Kenny, voice of SpongeBob Squarepants, doing his second turn as the voice of Tyler the Parrot, and okay, I'll stop there.
Strictly speaking, the anamorphic widescreen transfers are great; same for the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. Now comes the bad news: Sony has decided to go El-cheapo for this release, with an absolutely no-frills DVR presentation that says they're as uninterested in the future of this short-lived comedic gem as ABC was when they unceremoniously cancelled it at the end of the season.
Frills be damned, Happy Endings: The Complete Third Season remains strong stuff, and is heavily recommend for those who subscribe to the theory that laughter be the best medicine.
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