Saturday, March 10, 2012

Happy Endings - "The Kerkovich Way"

Season 2, Episode 17 

“Nothing changes.” 

What do we expect from Happy Endings at this point in the show's run? What was once an enjoyable light, swift-footed, and hilarious show has taken a few uneasy steps into more of a traditional rom com this season, and it's a move that has left this humble critic a bit stymied. On any given week, it's become harder and harder to tell which kind of show we'll be tuning into, and regardless of the show's varying level of skill at each kind of formula, it often makes for a very unsettling experience which shifting from one mode to the other, and often without much warning. 

You mileage on “The Kerkovich Way” is going to vary widely depending on how invested you were in the budding Dave/Penny romance and or the Dave/Alex hookup, and whether or not those two things would become intertwined. As I said last week, I'm still not sure if I care about any of these ongoing plots, but they are something that I'm interested in seeing the show developing, if only to see if the show can pull something like this off. And so when the show ended the last episode on something of a cliffhanger, I was excited to see what the show's next step to be.

To learn that the next step was to do practically nothing was a letdown to say the least, but it's also a move that reeks of cowardice on the show's part. While I see the show's point in showing how Alex and Dave have finally moved past the disaster of their almost-marriage and are in fact good enough friends that they can't just let this incidental slide without much drama, it did seem as if the show stirred up the pot quite a bit without a whole lot of payoff. On that level, last week's cliffhanger feels like a large cheat, a development that meant nothing more than some sort of collective perking up of the audience. It was empty and hollow, that left a bad taste in my mouth.

And yet, if we ignore this huge, distracting misstep, I would be hard pressed to say that I hated the episode itself, which on it's own terms was still quite strong, at least where the A-plot was concerned. Even if the dramatic payoff was minuscule, the comedic one was quite large, and it was all thanks to the titular familial system implemented by Jane and Alex. An exercise in comedic specificity, the laughs came not only from how detailed Jane's lies and setup became, but also how it ended up roping two-thirds of the cast in a needlessly complex series of lies. Of course, there were also some great gags along the sides of this plot as well, such as Dave fiddling with the mannequin, Alex krumping straight on through a commercial break, or Brad trying to distant himself from a chick flick that he actually didn't even watch.

The B-plot was a bit of letdown, even as it starred my two favorite characters/actors, and ironically dealt with some serialization better that the A-plot did. Granted, it's dealing with serialization was mostly just seeing Max sad and mopey in backdrop of the actual action, but it's not like there was a very high bar to clear in that department. As for the actual action itself, it was a bit of a letdown. While the premise of a cross-city scavenger hunt made for some good sight gags (especially Penny and Max and the rival couple racing towards a finishing line in shopping carts dressed up as baby carriages) the John Hughes theme didn't really do much, as the “jokes” didn't really get passed making references to a bunch of movies and just sort of stopping there without developing them further.

Well, except for that gag about the actor form Ferris Bueler's Day Off being an actual parking lot attendant, and only acting a favor to John Hughes. That shit was golden.

Quotes and Other Thoughts:

If you were wondering why this was the only new episode of ABC's Wednesday night block, here's the story. ABC still has the show Don't Trust the B---- in Apt. 23 (no, I didn't edit that, and yes, it DOES make for a really stupid title) to air, and since they need a spot in the lineup, there burning off Happy Endings episodes to make room. So only three episodes more after this. Cherish them, because ABC has yet to make a decision on renewing the show, so they might be the last you ever see. (Though I personally doubt it.)

But maybe this will cheer you up: Webisodes! It's like a little extra Happy Endings to make up for the couple episodes that you're missing. Okay, not really, but let's just take what we can get, especially considering they will outlast the season itself. (As of this time, only two have begun streaming; new ones appear each Wednesday.)

“Would we raise the baby as a group? Group baby? Is that a thing?”

“They are, trust me. I saw God. He'”

“This mannequin is not regulation!”

“It looks like all those summer interning at the John Hughes Museum are going to pay off.”

“And if anybody finds a ferret that answers to the name of Roy, please don't touch him. Just let him die.”

“You said you were Jonesin' for some Streep.” “That is something I would Jones for...”

“Parking cars is my passion. Showbiz, is for the birds.”

“I can't krump away this guilt I have for deceiving Dave.”

“The same Alex who think the computer and TV are friends?”

“Year of Penny!” “The year's been over for a few weeks now.” “Not the Fiscal Year of Penny. Suck it taxpayers!”

“But my wife rented it three days ago because she loves this movie, whereas I am partial to things like karate and brief nudity.”

“You can't get sad every time you see bacon, because that's going to come up a lot for you.”

“A hate crime. A baby committed a hate crime on another baby.”

“I guest I wasn't ready to open that rabbit hole.” “Go down that rabbit hole.” “Dave, clean it up.”

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