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August 1, 2014

Cougar Town: Pilot (series premiere)

by Joel Keller, posted Sep 23rd 2009 10:01PM
Courteney Cox in Cougar Town pilot
(S01E01)
I have faith in Bill Lawrence. I know that he's a guy who doesn't want to put out shows that are crap, and that if something he produces is crap (hello, sixth season of Scrubs), he cops to it and vows to improve.

That being said, I really, really hope he has the time to work his magic on Cougar Town. Because what I see from the pilot are the bones of a good show, but one that's going to need some time to develop.

I like the actors. I like the premise. There were a lot of funny lines. I even like the fact that Lawrence re-shot certain scenes to make them sound like they're from a more female point of view. But even in the pilot, you can see signs that this show can devolve into something more cartoonish than real, and right now it's a 50-50 shot that it'll do just that.

Courteney Cox is definitely the right person to play Jules Cobb, though. Yes, she's beautiful. Yes, she could probably get any man she wants, even boy toys like the kid she picked up in the club in the pilot. But with Cox you've always seen the goofy vulnerability behind the pretty face, all the way back to her Monica Gellar days. And here, you can believe that she's a recently-divorced 40-something who wants to be "out there" but doesn't want to be considered one of "those" women. Oh, and how many actresses could pull off the opening scene, where Jules distressingly pokes and prods at her "flab" and wrinkles, and make it believable (yes, that's actually Cox's body in those shots)?

And, even though the "C-word" ("Cougar..." get your minds out of the gutter) is never uttered -- the high school's mascot is the Cougars, so the town is nicknamed "Cougar Town" -- we all know that's what Jules is trying to avoid becoming, either in perception or fact. She doesn't want to become like her fellow real estate agent Barbara, swilling martinis and banging anyone above drinking age. But she can't sit there and rot like her married friends Ellie and Andy.

It's that conflict which will fuel the show, and if anyone can pull it off, it's Cox. When she laments that every man her age is either "married, gay or broken," and that it's lonely out there, you believe her.

I just wish that the rest of the show's characters were as well-drawn as Jules is. Ellie seems like the same hardened wife/best friend Christa Miller has played since The Drew Carey Show, and we need to see a bit more of her soft side. Ian Gomez as her husband Andy just looks like the typical sitcom sap of a husband. Her neighbor Grayson (Josh Hopkins) right now just looks like the embodiment of the middle-aged dating double standard, and not an intelligent one at that. And Jules' ex Bobby (Brian Van Holt) seems to be so dumb that it's hard for the viewer to believe that even a 20-year old Jules would sleep with him, much less marry him.

The characters that stand out are Jules' young assistant Laurie (Busy Philipps) and her son Travis (Dan Byrd). Those are relationships where I can see potential because of what they represent. Travis is embarrassed by his mom but is also protective (he beats a classmate up with his mom's provocative real estate sign when he's taunted with it), and Laurie is constantly trying to pull on her boss/BFF to have more fun. Both of those relationships are at the core of the show, and I hope they get explored more as time goes on. Besides, Cox has great chemistry with both Byrd and Philipps, which helps.

More fun stuff:
  • Do we really need to see the scarring-for-life picture of Travis seeing his mom give some dude oral sex? Hopefully, there will be ramifications to this later on.
  • The kid stealing Jules' signs was amusing at first, but by the time she and Laurie were chasing the kid through the town, things got a tad old.
  • Not sure why I liked the "samurai" line and the call-back later, but it worked.
  • "Stan? How old is your baby? 60?" Ah, the comedic goldmine of babies with old people's names...
  • Lawrence and his staff have an obsession with adults wearing onesies, don't they? Just take a look at about a half-dozen episodes of Scrubs for evidence.

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16 Comments

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Danielle

Love this show! I have no interest in watching Modern Family.

September 25 2009 at 9:20 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Horse N. Buggy

The best things about this show are the scenery (if they keep shooting in Florida) and the son. I LOVED Dan Byrd in Aliens in America. But if every episode is going to be about sex, then I won't stick with this show.

Oh, and I thought they were setting up the neighbor to be the eventual love interest for Cox's character. I didn't really get that feeling until he shot the photo of himself in footed PJs. Why does he care so much about getting under her skin?

September 24 2009 at 6:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
4beard

The only reason I turned this show on was to see Carolyn Hennesy and if they would have her on more I would probably watch it again. Basically, I thought it has hope but was really uncomfotable with her son walking in while she is giving some guy oral sex. Plus i am sorry but sex is not the only thing women think of. Not sure how much I will watch this show.

September 24 2009 at 6:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Kristi

I had high hopes for this show, but by the end of the first episode I was saying, 'oh, please. . .no.'

http://www.orble.com/teevee-cougar-town-ep1/

September 24 2009 at 2:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
amanda82977

I was pleasantly surprised by this show. I love Courtney Cox & Bill Lawrence, so that is why I tuned in. I was expecting a lot of stuff that would have been funny a few years ago when the whole cougar trend started but found myself actually laughing at this. I liked the line: "I can see color" and Matt's talk about the peanut butter crackers (no matter what age, men are men).

I will tune in again next week. I enjoyed both shows very much (yes the shooting actually had me LOL every time it misfired). Just not sure why we are compairing the 2 on this page. Maybe I will go over to the Modern Family page & write about Cougar Town... =)

September 24 2009 at 10:48 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
TR

I really enjoyed this show a LOT. And I don't usually do tv comedy, I find most of it insulting and stupid. But this show surprised me. It caught me off guard at times and made me laugh.

I hope they keep it around and it doesn't get killed off early in the season.

September 24 2009 at 10:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
dkaarma

I'm going to give this show some time to grow, It got a few small giggles and I think there is a lot of potential. I hope Bill gives it some drama in the next few episodes like he did with Scrubs, I think the show needs that heart that is the counterpoint to the comedy.

I felt that Christa was too much like Jordan (but Kate was one of my going-through-puberty crushes)

I also wished that her husband looked more like (or was played by) BL

but full disclosure... I didn't get into Scrubs the first time I saw it, it was only after I caught it again later, So I'll give this a chance.

September 24 2009 at 10:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
chris

In contrast to Modern Family I expected not to like this show at all, but I did. But then again I like Courtney Cox. I'll keep tuning into this one until it gets the boot. Not so sure I'll watch Modern Family again. I didn't like that show much at all.

September 24 2009 at 9:58 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
RT

I thought Cougartown was much better than Modern Family. Cox is still gorgeous and funny. Her son's character has a lot of potential. Some great scenes with the always entertaining Busy Phillips.

September 24 2009 at 9:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Bob Jones

I swore not to watch anything with Christa Miller until her face starts moving again.

Almost every character in the show, apart from Cox & her son, is annoying. Especially Miller.

September 24 2009 at 1:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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