Last year’s Halloween episode of Happy Endings felt like a breakthrough for the show. It had built up some critical steam before then, sure, but that was a great early episode to show potential fans to try and get them into the series. So when “Sabado Free-Gante” opened with the gang in a ridiculous group costume (Jackson 5 marionettes, controlled by Brad as Joe Jackson) as just a fun throwaway joke, I was surprised. I guess we can’t expect an episode devoted to Halloween every year. Or maybe last year was successful enough that the writers don’t want to try and top it, often a recipe for misery.
No matter. “Sabado Free-Gante” was a good time nonetheless, although I worry that the Alex/Dave romance is going to burn out on laughs very quickly. The joke is simple—they’re both incredibly enthused about being back together and moving very quickly toward another attempt at a wedding. Last week was casual sex, this week they’re moving in together, so we should have a repeat of the pilot episode by around mid-November, right?
But of course, they’re secretly terrified, so they torture poor Rachael Harris (playing a type-A real estate agent, a real departure for her) by objecting to every place she shows them on increasingly ridiculous grounds. They want a place close to a hardware store, but far from a software store. And no wi-fi, they want dialup, which Alex does a killer impression of. It’s funny enough, but Alex and Dave together can be a little tough to take. They’re both very high-energy, very silly, and kinda vacant, which means they can play well off of the ensemble, but paired together, things get grating fast. These two episodes went fine, but either this saga needs to end quickly, or we need something different for the next few weeks. My guess is the former, though. That final look Alex and Dave exchanged did not suggest good times ahead for this couple.
Much better was the pairing of Max and Brad, always a winner in my book. With Brad now officially unemployed, he and Jane have to cut back, so Max teaches him how to live like a hobo, which is nice and silly, although I wonder about this whole unemployment storyline. I guess it’s supposedly attached to the recession, but Brad can just go out and get a job, as we saw last week, so it’s really just because Jane thinks it’s good for him not to work. Whatever, I shouldn’t think too hard about these things. Happy Endings isn’t the kind of show where you really worry about how the characters are paying for things. Max mentions that Dave paid pretty much all his rent, which, sure, but with Dave out of the apartment, Max will just… figure something else out, and it’ll either be a funny weird plot, or never mentioned again.
But Brad and Max are a nice pairing, since they’re both silly, but their comedic styles are pretty different. Probably the standout moment was their food-stealing at various Anonymous meetings, with Max apparently telling a similar story every time and making nonsensical small talk afterwards (“just wish this coffee was a vagina, huh?” he asks a fellow sex addict).
The main event this week was Jane hijacking Penny’s car-buying adventure. This was such a standard sitcom plot (with all the car-buying tropes you always see on TV about sticker price and so on), but it had a few great asides, like the constant references to the Car Czar (“he knows what cars are”) and Penny’s attempt at a walkout ending with her running through a plate-glass window (a feat she repeats hours later, through plastic sheeting this time).
The final twist, with Rob Corddry as the Car Czar offering Jane a job as top negotiator (they both have counter-offers written on folded pieces of paper on their persons) was cute, and I’m looking forward to a Corddry arc, even though this looks like the same character he’s always given in guest spots. But his vibe should work well with the show’s style, and he and Eliza Coupe are made for each other.
I’m reminded how difficult this show is to review. It was pretty funny! It could have been funnier, but everything still seems to be clicking in the third season. It is still nice to have Happy Endings back.
- Dave, apparently, always plays LaToya and gets ribbed by the rest of the gang. “Why do I always have to be LaToya?” “SHUT UP, LATOYA!”
- Alex and Dave mock Brad’s disapproval of their latest move. “Aw hell no, you two whiteys are moving in together? Jive-ass turkeys!” Brad protests, but in a stereotypical voice.
- Penny’s exclamations at Jane’s witch-like powers were all initialed actors. “CCH Pounder!” “F. Murray Abraham!”
- The montage of Dave and Max trying to open the unbreakable piñata was a little Family Guy, but undeniably hilarious.
- Max and Brad commiserating at a kid’s birthday party was great, especially the kid’s meta exit line. “I don’t have to sit here and listen to your lame wrap-up. Get a job, hippie.”