Is it possible to be happy when you're always worried about everything that could go wrong? That's part of the premise behind the fourth season of "Cougar Town," which is now on a new network, TBS, after being cancelled by ABC.
"Cougar Town" followed Jules Cobb (Courteney Cox) and her new husband Grayson Ellis (Josh Hopkins) as they coped with their first week of marriage. They started to learn all of their hang-ups, mainly hers, and how to move past them. The couple challenged each other as they tried to best each other in making a new set of their marital standards, such as Grayson getting Jules' coffee every morning or pouring her a glass of wine. Jules' son Travis (Dan Byrd) is learning to take some cues from his irresponsible father Bobby (Brian Van Holt), especially when it comes to running from his feeling for Jules' protegee Laurie Keller (Busy Philipps). Travis was very embarassed after his declaration of love to her last season didn't go according to plan. In the meantime, Laurie was dealing with the complications of a long distance romance that was becoming harder than she imagined. Jules' best friend Ellie Torres (Christa Miller) was struggling with not always being the first person that Jules turned to for comfort, but she had her husband Andy (Ian Gomez) to always keep her guessing. Will Jules be able to make her new marriage work or will she give into her past relationship mistakes?
In terms of questions, it was clearly obvious that Jules would eventually fall back into some of her old patterns of self doubt. If she didn't make any mistakes, there would be nothing be funny going on with Cox's storyline. It's almost an essential requirement in sitcoms for characters to constantly get into trouble in order to draw more laughs. Lucille Ball was always at her funniest when she was getting herself into some of the most hilariously insane situations and then having to explain herself afterwards. Jules Cobb isn't quite in the same comedic tier as Lucy Ricardo, but the character brought her own brand of comedic charm with the help of Cox's sarcastic delivery. She made even some of the silliest storylines seem credibly funny. The premiere made the smart decision by making some fun inside jokes about how much the characters love to drink wine and also loosely referenced about the show's uncertain fate. Overall, the fourth season premiere allowed the whole cast to shine equally and it didn't linger too long on any given story. Let's just hope that the rest of the season will focus on some stronger material than Jules' neurotic tendencies and to show how the new married couple can truly evolve.
As for breakout stars, Miller and Philipps brought in some genuine comic relief as Jules' two closest friends had to adjust to her new marital status. Miller made Ellie the right combination of strength and vulnerability as she tried to be the best friend she could be to Jules. Her best moment came towards the end of the premiere when Jules told her what Andy did the night before they returned from Jules' elopement trip with Grayson. Miller's expression was priceless, but her response was even more surprising because she liked what she heard from her friend. Philipps continued to have some of the best one liners on the show and her rapport with Byrd was the right amount of sweet awkwardness to keep viewers interested. Cox and Hopkins deserved honorable mentions as they played being a newly married couple without losing their pre-marital edge. They were loving to each other, but they also brought a sense of playfulness to not make their story too cliche. The only thing that needed a little change was how Van Holt's lovable golfball Bobby never seemed to evolve from being on the edge of responsibility. Maybe, his character could get involved in a relationship, that's short term of course, to give him a challenge for a little while. Only time will tell if that happens. If not, Van Holt still provided enough laughs to keep viewers interested anyway.
"Cougar Town" premiered on January 8th and airs Tuesdays at 10:00 PM on TBS.
Verdict: Cox returned in fine form, but the premiere was a little thin in terms of material. Hopefully, future episodes will remedy that.
TV Score: 2 out of 5 stars
1 Star (Mediocre)
2 Stars (Averagely Entertaining)
3 Stars (Decent Enough to Pass Muster)
4 Stars (Near Perfect)
5 Stars (Gold Standard)