Last night, TBS premiered Cougar Town to much ballyhoo. This wasn’t a pilot; Cougar Town lived on network TV for three seasons, much of that time perched atop the bubble. (You can check out my impressions of the pilot here.)
I didn’t stick with the show for very long. I know there’s wine. I know there’s a cul-de-sac. And I’ve heard that Jules and Grayson got together — hardly a surprise, based on the pilot alone. Even from the beginning the title didn’t make a hell of a lot of sense, and from what I’ve heard, made less so over the years. I honestly didn’t think the show would last long. (After all, how many Tom Petty songs are there?)
I’m guessing that I’m not the only person out there for whom the TBS premiere, “Blue Sunday,” was a sort of introduction to the show, so in some ways it needed to function like a pilot. Or so I thought.
The episode doesn’t leave fans behind even for one second. The very first bit is a “we’re back” joke. (As seen in similar situations on Futurama and Family Guy.) You would expect that. But then it launches right into the story, picking up a week from where the previous season’s finale left off. It doesn’t even feel like a season premiere.
Now there’s nothing I hate more than spoon-fed exposition, and it doesn’t take a lit major to follow the plot of a wacky sit-com. It just seems as if TBS was so eager to assuage any fan fears that they’ve changed the show, they may have left potential new viewers out in the cold.
The only back story given is that Jules (Courteney Cox) and Grayson (Josh Hopkins) have been married for a week. There’s a quick reference to Jules’ failed marriage in ’06, but no mention who it was to, even though her ex, Bobby (Brian Van Holt), figures prominently into the episode. You could probably put it together based on Travis’ lineage, and a quick question from Ellie to Bobby late in the episode, but it’s not spelled out. There’s also the suggestion that, at some point late last season, Travis (Dan Byrd) admitted to having feelings for Laurie (Busy Philipps). Meanwhile, Laurie has a continuing long distance relationship with a solider on deployment. Ellie (Christa Miller) and Andy’s (Ian Gomez) marriage is just weird, and, to me, their pseudo-date-rape style sexual encounter bordered on offensive — but maybe I just don’t know the characters well enough. (Maybe?)
Clearly much has changed since the start of the show in 2009. Jules is not portrayed as anything resembling a “cougar,” not that she ever really was. But maybe Laurie is about to take up that mantle by getting it on with young Travis (ick). And the only real cougar from the first season (Carolyn Hennesy), who I found hilarious BTW, has apparently been long abandoned.
There were probably many in-jokes that went right past me, but plenty of other bloggers have that angle covered. Personally, I didn’t laugh once. Okay, maybe a little about “coffee bitch,” but by the end of the episode I was pretty bored.
Oh, in case you were wondering, there is, in fact, a song by Tom Petty called “Blue Sunday.” Here are the lyrics and a downloadable ringtone.