Happy Endings: “Cocktails & Dreams”
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Happy Endings: “Cocktails & Dreams”

I heartily enjoyed this episode of Happy Endings, with one minor quibble, and it’s really not the writers’ fault: My DVR cut off the final joke of the episode. Now, I figured that Alex was going to wake up from a sex dream with Dave and find Dave in the bed next to her. I know how sitcoms work, and that’s generally how it’s done. But there’s always that risk in this stupid modern era of ours that the DVR will cut it off, and you don’t record Revenge, and you have to go to Twitter to make sure your hunch is correct. Luckily, it all worked out, but I was worried there for a minute.

In terms of a Dave/Alex hookup, how do I feel? This isn’t a show where I’m generally happy if such plot movement is kept firmly in the background. Don’t want things to get too soapy—obviously, it worked for Friends in that it got viewers, but the endless partner-swapping kinda wrecked the show as well. Dave and Alex hooking up is a perfectly reasonable move, and it could yield some very funny plotlines. As long as it doesn’t take precedence over the jokes, I’m okay with it.

Speaking of romantic story arcs, I was a little surprised and sad to see Grant leave so quickly—for some reason, I thought James Wolk was signed for more than three episodes (maybe he is, and he’ll be back, I don’t know). But since Grant turned out to be a handsome, nice, but fairly boring character, I understand that there wasn’t really anywhere to go with him, especially in terms of bouncing him off Max. Hopefully, Max’s next love interest will be weirder, since I doubt he will be as attractive (alright, David, enough with the cooing over James Wolk, jeez).

I wasn’t thrilled at the excuse for the break-up—that Grant doesn’t want kids and Max decides maybe he will. That seems like a reason not to get seriously involved, but we’d had so little of Max and Grant together that they didn’t strike me as being that serious yet. What I did like was how Penny covered for Max at the end of the episode to hide his vulnerability from the rest of the gang—their relationship has always been the strongest in the show, one of the few places where Happy Endings can go for a poignant moment and really earn it (like in the season one finale).

Complaints aside, the spine of the episode was pretty strong, though. I was very impressed with the story intertwining here, revolving around everyone having sex dreams about Dave, which was spurred by the drinks he was serving at his speakeasy steak truck, except not Penny and Alex at first because they’re on a cleanse, but then Penny secretly breaks the cleanse. Also, Colin Hanks, one of those actors who knows funny people and is good at being in on the joke, played a dumb version of himself who tells stories about being in the Hangover video game with Frank Caliendo and has a coke-addicted intern called “Beans.”

Now, sex dreams about friends and a crazy cleanse? Comedy mainstays. But when weaved into a nice, zippy story like this one and with a further guest appearance by the always-welcome Paul Scheer, well, you won’t hear complaints from me. Scheer (returning from an appearance in season one) didn’t get too much to do, but I definitely laughed at his exchange with Max about the origin city of a water bottle on a flight to Albuquerque.

The various sex dreams were well-staged, with Gerry Rafferty’s “Baker Street” a perfect musical cue. Brad’s flirty talk with Dave about his new perfume, “My Bush” by Kyle Bush, was the best, but I really want to see Jane’s, which is much like Varsity Blues—no football, but Jon Voight is coaching them.

This is Leap Day, the final day of February sweeps (and props to this show for NOT doing a Leap Day storyline like everyone else), and this episode really felt like a sweeps episode, with twists and turns and fantasies and silliness. We’re in the show’s home stretch now (I think it has to wrap up by April), so let’s see if things get soapier, stay silly, or maybe do a little bit of both. I’m hoping for a little of both.

Stray observations:

  • Jane’s advice to Penny: “Not to be brutal, but I don’t think you’re going to last a half an hour on this you stupid idiot.” “Such a stupid idiot!”
  • Among Dave’s stupid ideas: a boxer thong, changing his name to Dustin, proposing to Alex.
  • Brad once had a sex dream about Fran Sinclair, the mom in Dinosaurs.
  • Alex eliminates rat poison from her diet. “Have you been eating that?” “One time. By mistake. I thought it was more pirate cereal.”
  • Brad reveals his big secret. "I’m not actually black. This is just a giant mole.”
  • Two great fashion items this week: Dave in Freddy Kruger outfit, Alex’s My My Morning Jacket Jacket.
  • Penny tells Max to stop fighting the magic of the relationship. “You said the same thing about Krippendorf’s Tribe, and now it’s one of my favorite movies.”
  • “Judgments are the gluten of thoughts.”
  • Alex eating ribs at the end of the episode was pretty triumphant.

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