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Cougar Town: Don't Do Me Like That

by Joel Keller, posted Oct 8th 2009 9:42AM
Cougar Town: Don't Do Me Like That(S01E03) Interesting trend with this show: The episode titles have so far been titles of Tom Petty songs. Take a look at the names of the upcoming episodes and the pattern continues for the forseeable future. Wonder how long they can hold on to this convention, especially as linking the episode to a title of Petty song they haven't used before gets harder.

That's the best thing I can say about this episode, to be honest. This one was less funny than last week's episode, which was less funny than the pilot. At least last week's episode had some heartfelt emotion behind it, so the lack of laughs could be excused. But this episode didn't even have that, which made most of what was supposed to be funny fall flat.

Jules is 40. We get it. Things don't come to her as easily as it does someone in her twenties. But this week it felt like she had a big neon sign over her head that said "I'm 40!!!" Maybe it's because I'm the wrong gender, but jokes about mani-pedi-waxing combo sessions don't really play well with me. A woman who's supposed to be at her sexual peak and knows exactly what she wants shouldn't need to be so wound up and insecure in bed that she has to ask her idiot ex if he thought she was a good lover (at least she got the point later on and gave her boy toy some marching orders).

It all felt very sitcommy, a word I use quite a bit and not in a positive sense. I expect more from my sitcoms, so to fall back on old standard sitcom conventions -- "You mean I stink in bed?" -- makes a show feel like it's a relic from the days of Three's Company rather than something fresh and funny. Hopefully, in future episodes, Bill Lawrence and Kevin Biegel will turn that neon sign over Courteney Cox's head off and just let her play a woman who's just looking to have fun and find something meaningful.

And those neon signs also extend to the rest of the ensemble. Ellie's sign is "Why did I have a kid?" Andy's sign is "Henpecked husband." Laurie's sign is "I'm free!!!" Bobby's sign is "Duuuuuh." The only ones that are surprising to this point are Travis, who's embarrassed by his dad but he really does look up to him in many ways, and Grayson, who's supposed to be the shallow bachelor playboy but we all know has more going on than that.

All of these characters need to shut those signs off if this show is going to succeed. I've been hesitant to compare this show to Scrubs, so I'll skip over that show and compare it to another Bill Lawrence show, Spin City. At the beginning of that show's first season, the characters were painted with fairly broad brushes. It wasn't until the show concentrated on the goings on in the Deputy Mayor's office (sorry, Carla Gugino!) did the show take off. It gave Lawrence and company time to explore the characters a little more. Hopefully we'll see that a little more as time goes on.

But for right now, this is a show that I'm not sure I want to follow every week. And, considering Lawrence's track record, that's saying a lot.

[Watch clips and free episodes of Cougar Town at SlashControl.]

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Brett Alan

Eli Stone made it through the first season using George Michael songs as episode titles, and Petty has a larger catalog than Michael, so I'd say they could go for a while if they so choose.

October 09 2009 at 1:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mike Poole

Uh...I'm a man. I thought the show was hilarious. Even funnier than last week's.

October 08 2009 at 7:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I didn't like this episode, and I think it's because the concept of the show is a little weak. This episode focused on Jules's attempts to get ready for sex while balancing her friends and family. There were funny moments, but there were also very stupid moments. Full review of the episode.


October 08 2009 at 6:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It's funny to those of us who understand what she is going through. I wouldn't have found it even slightly entertaining when I was in my 20s or if I were a man.

October 08 2009 at 2:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

"Wonder how long they can hold on to this convention, especially as linking the episode to a title of Petty song they haven't used before gets harder."

I REALLY wouldn't worry about that..

October 08 2009 at 2:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Key Rick

If you've been a television critic long enough to recall a convention on Three's Company, then of course Cougar Town's not likely to wow you as sitcom chock full of fresh ideas. Maybe expecting this particular sitcom not to be "sitcommy" isn't realistic? I enjoyed last night's Cougar Town episode a whole lot more than the Modern Family one on just before it. That's show's totally overrated.

October 08 2009 at 12:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Scott K.

I agree. There were funny(-ish) moments in the show, but not enough. It's not been original or funny enough and, to be honest, it's only because I give Courney Cox the benefit of the doubt that I am still watching. But, even then, I think they've got one more chance before I move on. There are enough good shows and, with little kids, I don't have time to waste it on mediocre shows.

October 08 2009 at 12:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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