Apr 26, 2012

[TV] Happy Endings: Season 2

There are some shows that aren't all that amazing and yet aren't all that bad either that we just continue to watch. They tend to hover in the comfort zone of sort of "just okay" television. And that isn't necessarily a bad thing - while the show won't win any amazing awards, it does generate a consistent enough of a fan following to survive for a few seasons and becomes quite the decent source of entertainment.

I had very mixed feelings when I first started watching this show, but I suppose that's natural for any new venture. It takes a while for the characters to mature in terms of how they are written and of course for the actors to become comfortable with their respective roles and how to interact with one another.

The first season tried to focus on the premise of the pilot - of a group of friends dealing with the almost marriage of two of their friends. But as the season had progressed, it seems the writers had realized that there were more stories to be told outside of this initial context. And while they continue to explore some of those relationships here and there, it's not quite the main focus, especially in this second season.

Happy Endings is an ABC sitcom created by David Caspe. As a ensemble "relationship comedy", it often gets compared to the likes of Friends, but it does stand out having survived its debut season despite other similar sitcoms all getting cancelled.

The season doesn't exactly have an over-arching storyline to follow nor do we particularly see consistent progress for the characters. So in terms of a synopsis, I can only offer particular highlights of things that have happened.

Adam Pally perfomed at the Upright Citizens Br...
Adam Pally perfomed at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in 2008 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
This season introduced Megan Mullally as Dana, the quirky ultra-positive mother of Penny (Casey Wilson). And naturally it turns out there's reason for her to be less than happy and Penny takes it upon herself to bring her mom back in touch with the harshness of reality. This season also featured their attempts to give Max (Adam Pally) a boyfriend in the form of Grant (James Wolk). And everyone seems to really like him, which ironically annoys Max due to his perceived perfection.

Another fun story involved practically everyone in the gang including Brad (Damon Wayans Jr.) start to have sex dreams involving Dave (Zachary Knighton). At the same time, Dave has just developed a new signature drink for his food truck business after finally getting his liquor license. And naturally the new success related to this venture starts to go to his head.

It isn't until the very end of the season that we finally experience a change in the status quo that actually has some impact in the greater scheme of things. I won't spoil it for now, but needless to say it could be a step in the right direction in terms of making sure the writers get to set up actual plots in time for the third season, assuming news of the show's renewal are accurate.

It's interesting to note that a lot of the dialog tends to be ad-libbed between the actors. So what initially seemed to me like a lot of hap-hazard writing was probably these on-the-spot scenes, typically meant to capture the kind of genuine meandering conversation between a group of long-time friends. And that does add a lot of color and appeal to the show and it really helps what makes the interaction between the characters so unique.

Each episode tends to stand alone though, and thus it's hard to appreciate if the sitcom will evolve into having any sense of a more long term direction. I feel that if the show is to survive, it needs to develop some degree of a meta-plot, or more specifically a sense of the characters evolving and maturing and even just having a sense of continuity. For now all that has been established is that Dave and Alex (Elisha Cuthbert) were once engaged but now aren't. For the rest of them we don't see much progress made save for the twist at the end of the season.

But the show is rather funny for the most part. The humor is a bit quirky and isn't necessarily consistent from episode to episode, but it's still funnier than most. And while the whole "token gay character" bit used to annoy more, now it certainly seems that they're figuring out how to better use Max and the rest of the LGBT community in their jokes and episode plots.

Happy Endings is certainly maturing and it's worth more than a second glance. If the first season didn't quite appeal to you right off the bat, I can't blame you. However this second season will give you more of a reason to follow things along. Thus the show gets 3.5 crazy schemes the gang gets into based on a half-baked premise out of a possible 5.

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