Body casts, a nod to Misery, hot physical therapists, unemployment, marital secrets, a puppet and friends hooking up?
Oh, yes, Happy Endings Season 3 kicks off in a new time slot tonight, 9/8c on ABC, as BFFs Brad, Jane, Alex, Dave, Penny and Max continue to forge their way through life in Chicago. Leaving us laughing the entire time, of course.
Tonight’s premiere picks up where the season finale left off and stars Elisha Cuthbert (Alex) and Zachary Knighton (Dave) told TV Fanatic at an on-set press junket in Los Angeles that they’re excited their characters are back together.
“No one’s actually seen us together like this,” said Cuthbert of Alex and Dave, who haven’t been back together in a romantic sense since the outset of the pilot. “We’re a real, real couple and we were just told off the start [by the producers] that it was going to be one of those things where we’ll see how it goes for a couple and if it’s weird then we have the option to change. It’s still weird, but it’s working for some reason.”
Knighton marveled with his co-star that things seem to be going well thus far for Dave and Alex.
“We’re not having many problems right now. It’s kind of funny they’re just letting us be.”
Part of the chemistry in the coupling is that the characters are more alike than may have originally been evident: “I think you can see how indecisive we are as individuals and then together really feeding off each other,” Cuthbert said. “‘Is this the right thing to do?’ and he is like ‘I don’t know?’ As opposed to Brad and Jane, who are so solid.”
Speaking of Brad and Jane (Damon Wayans Jr and Eliza Coupe, also present at the junket), while the bulk of the friends could care less that Dave and Alex are back together, Wayans said that his alter ego thinks it’s a very good thing.
“We’re actually kind of excited about it because it’s another couple that we get to hang out with. We were hanging out with all single people and they get kind of grossed out when we’re making out and now there’s another couple to make everyone else grossed out.”
One big change for Brad in the new season is that he's jobless: “I like the fact that Brad is unemployed right now,” Wayans said. "He gets to have a lot more fun, gets to wear a lot less suits and he’s just having a grand old time.”
Besides getting the chance to do more physical comedy, Wayans said Brad will also spend his down time seeking mischief with Max (Adam Pally) as they do in the season’s second episode where the latter shows Brad how to have a fun Saturday without spending a dime.
Another upcoming episode dives into the past and will reveal how Brad and Jane first met. In true Happy Endings fashion, the show goes into flashback mode and reveals a fictitious never-aired season of MTV’s The Real World: Sacramento.
“I didn’t even know that’s how we met so I was like ‘Okay, this is our origin,’” the actor said.
Watch for some funky hair and clothes during the flashback, Wayans previewed: “I have dreads and look just like [Counting Crows’] Adam Duritz. My hair…it’s like they took his hair off and put it on my head.” Coupe also teased that Jane will have pink hair a la early Gwen Stefani.
Also, with Brad out of work, it’s time for Jane to go into Type-A overdrive by taking a new job.
“I’m a car dealer,” Coupe said. “I deal cars with the brilliant Rob Corddry," who is coming on board as the Car Czar and appears in a couple of episodes - but the cast is hankering to get him to stick around for more.
“He’s amazing,” gushed Coupe. “He’s done two so far and we’re hoping for many more. In fact, if he wants to take Jane’s place and I’ll come on as a guest star, I would not be okay with it but I would learn to be.”
For singles Penny (Casey Wilson) and Max (Pally), dating life won’t be necessarily easy... but it will be funny. Max, who was coupled with guest James Wolk last season, is single at the start of the season, crushing on Penny’s hot physical therapist.
Penny starts the season still dating 90210 alum Brian Austin Green but that relationship goes awry in the first minutes of the opener. When asked, Wilson admitted that she does relate to her character’s dating life to a degree: “I have a boyfriend but I've also spent my fair share of time being single and I would get up to some weird stuff. I admire Penny's optimism in the face of such idiocy.”â€¨
Another loose thread from last season is the matter of Penny’s feelings for Dave now that he and Alex back together. It will be dealt with in the new episodes, Wilson teased:
“Penny and Alex definitely spend some time on this issue because they are best friends and Alex is now living with Dave.”
While it doesn’t seem as though Penny will get in the way of the two lovebirds, she did give a window into how Penny will react: “Penny does what she does best, which is rebound unhealthfully immediately into another relationship."
The never-before-seen parents of Alex and Jane are also coming this season, played by Christopher McDonald and Julie Hagerty. For Coupe, she said we’ll see a not-so-flattering side to Jane when they arrive and she shows her Daddy issues: “I think there is a real sad side where Jane just really wants to impress her father.”
For Alex, her rekindled romance isn’t something she’s dying to talk to Mom and Dad about for good reason, according to Cuthbert: “We’ve caused so much chaos, you get a sense that it’s not that she doesn’t want to tell it’s just that she knows how complicated it can get and she’s so happy it is what it is.”
One thing Happy Endings fans can expect is a season filled with more hilarity for our regulars, who will undoubtedly have viewers picking favorite episodes, especially when other future stories include Dave and Alex apartment hunting and then hosting what is bound to be a comical Thanksgiving.
“Dave is 1/16th Navajo,” Knighton explained. “and so [he] is really intent on showing everybody what the true Thanksgiving is like. It’s pretty great because Dave gets to experience the entire plight of the Native Americans in one episode of Happy Endings.”
Viewers aren’t the only ones to pick favorite storylines on the show. Wilson admitted to already being a fan of an upcoming Penny/Brad story that she loves, despite suffering a personal injury.
“My favorite episode has been the one we just shot, where I was paired with Damon in a caper-like storyline,” she said. “We joked, that individually our acting styles are so broad, when combined it plays like a telenovela. In one scene, Penny slaps Brad across the face so hard that I popped my shoulder out and had to wear a sling for two weeks. But it was worth it.”
Happy Endings returns TONIGHT to ABC. Visit TV Fanatic the moment it concludes for a detailed review, including an updated section of Happy Endings quotes.
Jim Halterman is the West Coast Editor of TV Fanatic and the owner of JimHalterman.com. Follow him on Twitter.