Allow me, first, a moment to take a "victory sip."
When I said in my earlier post that Cougar Town has the perfect blend of comedy and heart, I couldn't have known how perfectly "Walls" would demonstrate that to be the absolute truth.
One thing in particular I love about Cougar Town, is the constant feeling of being part of an inside joke. So many other shows, even some currently well regarded comedies, tend to keep you at arm's length; it often feels like you're on the outside looking in.
Not so with Cougar Town. I am filled with delight every time I see Jules drowning her woes in Big Carl, or whenever the Penny Can makes an appearance - which tonight it did so in a featured form. We even had a "Slap out of it!" shout out. Whether it's your first introduction, or you have been along for the ride since the beginning, each call back to these bits is like a big bear hug from the Cul-De-Sac Crew.Speaking of Penny Can, I love having Bobby and Laurie paired up because they're the most carefree of the bunch. When the two of them are together, there's no telling what might happen. Case in point: a not-so-hairbrained scheme to profit off the Penny Can. Their exchange over the sayings "You have to spend money to make money" and "Location Location Location" was typical of their comically innocent exchanges and how comfortable they are in their naivety. I especially got a kick out of their re-purpose of the phrase "kicks ass."
Grayson's back and forth with Andy at the bar was highly amusing, all the more when they were trying to escape from the really tall dude (or was it two guys?) who didn't care much for having his lady insulted. I really enjoy Grayson as the straight man who is always trying to set his comrades straight, but ultimately just giving in and having a ball alongside everyone else. In this way, he sort of reminds me of Ross on Friends, who would often engage in frustrating philosophical debates with Phoebe, only to wind up catering to her whims in the end.
Jules has been on a tear this season, with Travis now in college, to try and find a way to remain a thriving, relevant part of his life - often in very manic and obsessive ways ("You want to live inside his blood."). This is a secret, to no one but Jules. It's been the elephant in the room for a while now, and I was grateful to Ellie for finally calling her on it and in such exceptionally comical form.
Sometimes the funniest moments can be found in the tiniest details, and for me I don't think I've ever laughed as hard as I did when Ellie ripped the band-aid off and told Jules that Bobby is the better parent. What makes this so incredibly funny is, first of all, is how insane Jules is about her relationship with her son. She prides herself on being an awesome mom, something Ellie knows all too well. Then the look on Ellie's face as she uttered those words, knowing full well what Jules' reaction would be, had me literally doubled over with laughter. I would really love to know how many takes it took to get right. Imaginary hat off to Christa Miller for her spot on facial expressions, including the earlier pseudo-sad face.
Ellie is the smartest woman in the room, and everyone knows it - most of all Ellie. As usual, I laughed, again - and this time physically clutching my sides - as she tried to feed Jules small clues to get to the reason why Travis wanted to dig up the time capsule. Once again, Ellie's expressions of both exasperation and feigned excitement as Jules would seem to get it, only to sidestep, and then almost get there, had me rolling.
I appreciated how, after scene upon hilarious scene of going at it over whether or not Jules should meddle in Travis' affairs - including the brief over-the-fence bit - Ellie only wanted to protect Jules and Travis' special relationship because Ellie's mom made her life a living hell by interfering.
One thing Cougar Town does very well is tying the bitingly funny moments together with a little heartwarming tug at the end. At the core of this series are the closeknit relationships that allow some of the more zany moments to still feel authentic, rather than merely absurd. Some might find it a bit too saccharine; I personally like to follow up the salty wit-bits with a little dab of sugar.
Oh, and I can't be completely certain, but I think Cougar Town may have just one-upped Community in the slapstick epilogue department with showing that Ellie's "ghost in the truck" is actually Jules messing with her by moving her truck when she's not looking.
There were dozens of similarly hilarious moments; it's impossible to comment on them all, so I'll bullet point a few more that I found both charming and hysterical:
- Mama Giatta.
- The No-No Dance.
- Stache Attack and Crazy Brows.
- The Moving Target Penny Can choreography.
- Travis' first blister.
- The Weekly Tom Shutdown.
- Teddy Ruxpin and .38 Special tapes in the time capsule.
- Laurie and Bobby's Penny Can commercial.
Wonderfully casual performances all the way around by this very talented cast, fantastic writing including more legitimate laughs than I can remember from any comedy in recent memory. I honestly had an ear-to-ear grin on my face the entire time. What more can you ask for?
So tell us: Are YOU glad to have the Cul-De-Sac crew back? What was your favorite part of the show?
Jeffrey Kirkpatrick is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.