It was a night of laughs and letting go on tonight’s new episode of Cougar Town on TBS titled “I Need to Know”. Since her college-aged son Travis (Dan Byrd) has returned to school, Jules (Courteney Cox) feels like she is losing sight of her son. Meanwhile, the guys of the Cul De Sac crew ponder what it is like to ponder things with mustaches. Also, as per the title card, the letters in Cougar Town can be rearranged to spell “Taco Rug Now” (which also makes no sense). So does Jules find out why Travis is ignoring her? Do the guys really think better with mustaches? And who will watch Tom’s (Bob Clendenin) cat?
FACT: We’ll get to that in a second, and even discuss Grayson’s slightly gay Ferrari-like waxed/shaved chest. But before we go further, there is another thing to look at in regards to Cougar Town. The first episode back for Cougar Town (which the review for which can be found here) was an episode that came back swinging, aiming for the fences and in doing so delivered. Bad sports analogy aside, the real test will be the second episode and subsequent episodes following. So how does episode two fare?
“I Need to Know” starts off bringing out the heavy laughs and heart with Travis and Jules on a bench making a trade: laundry for mother/son hugs. Travis is, as always, so devoid of showing his other emotion naturally to Jules, they have a deal where they exchange hugs and a ‘I love you’ for laundry. As a son, who loves his mother deeply, there is always a bit of that general feeling and at some point it was instantly relatable (at least from my perspective). The heartfelt laughs turned into horrific but hysterical laughs as Jules has a family night and decides to watch Game of Thrones. Travis warns it is a bit racy, and the horror part comes in when they start discussing Jules boobs before and after Travis got a hold of them. Oh yeah: Travis is on a first date with a girl.*
(*) – Isn’t it very peculiar that the girl looks overly a lot like Busy Philipps’ character Laurie but with red hair and glasses? Looking at the credits we learn it is not, and the girl quickly disappears from all but the scene in the rest of the episode, but that was an interesting idea to perhaps investigate in future episodes.
The heavy laughs keep coming with the game “Things That Annoy Ellie” (Christa Miller) between Eliie, Bobby (Brian Van Holt) and her husband Andy (Ian Gomez). Surprisingly fedoras are high on the list. But instead, Ellie has a gripe with Andy, and decides to take the unwitting advise from Bobby; treat Andy like a dog by rewarding good behavior with treats. And it begins to work. Meanwhile Jules hasn’t heard much from Travis (nine whole days!) and begins to feel that her son doesn’t love her or maybe he was hurt.
Fact is, Travis, like most kids, want some privacy and alone time, or, really, doesn’t like to be real. And with his mom, he has to be real. While with Bobby, and even Grayson, Travis feels odd that out of everyone in his life, his mom wants to have a real conversation, and well, be real. Again, there is always one parent who is usually the parent who is real with their kid, and it can be hard, until a certain age, to keep a real conversation constantly going.
What was particularly interesting about “I Need to Know” though, was the real through-line of heart in the episode. Usually Cougar Town always seemed to lean more towards the laugh than the heart, but more often than not, most of this episode of Cougar Town had a real beating heart underneath every scene. And not to dismiss any episode before this one, as Cougar Town has tons of heart, but it was the first time I was very much reminded of some of the best episodes of Scrubs, where every little thing wasn’t quickly sold out for the laugh, but played up for the emotional pay-off. Between Travis and Jules, Jules even feeling bad about not feeding Tom’s cat, especially Andy and Ellie, it was an episode that not only made laugh out loud quite a few times but made me a bit wistful. (That’s code for you almost got me to give up a man card, Cougar Town.)
So will this same vibe continue as Cougar Town chugs along it’s fourth season? Sincerely, I hope so. A lot of people are quick to make figurative statements and comparisons to Cougar Town to that of wine. And honestly I was quick to try not to do that. At that point, it is a cliché, but I think I can join the crowd now as Cougar Town is the same but it is not, and to me that feels that it is different all for the better. Two episodes in, I am finding myself to be enjoying this TBS vintage of Cougar Town a tad bit more.
Cougar Town airs on TBS which is on Channel 17 on Columbus Insight Communications and Channel 18 for Columbus Time Warner Customers
But what do YOU think?
You can read Nick’s additional reviews on The TV King.