Review: 'Happy Endings' - 'Cocktails & Dreams': Dirty nights and cleansing days
A quick review of last night's "Happy Endings" coming up just as soon as I move into a converted brewery that's still a working brewery...
A few of the recent episodes haven't entirely clicked for me, but "Cocktails & Dreams" was "Happy Endings" firing on all thrusters. Even the cleanse storyline, which started out lagging behind the sex dream plot, found another gear when Alex turned on the ceiling fan and Penny's food kept on falling, and falling, and falling. (That was a case where the repetition entirely made the gag work.)
On the one hand, this was a case where the show not only dialed up the absurdity meter to 11, but managed to get nearly all the jokes to land. The silliness extended not only to the dreams themselves (always punctuated by the famous sax solo from Gerry Rafferty's "Baker Street"), but Brad wearing "My Busch — the new cologne by Kyle Busch," or Max literally holding his horses, or the same episode featuring both pajoveralls and a My Morning Jacket jacket, or Max briefly turning into Homer Simpson with his admiration for floor bacon (as opposed to floor pie) while Penny turned into Mox from "Varsity Blues" and Dave became Freddy Krueger.
And yet even within all this absurdity (including further confirmation that Elisha Cuthbert eating is never not funny), we managed to get a relatively sincere (and yet still amusing) Max storyline. At first glance, it might seem out of character that Max is the one initiating a break-up (or, at least, a break, which gives the show the option to bring James Wolk back if he's available) because the other guy doesn't want kids. But the Max/Penny scene did a good job of clarifying the messy feelings he was having, and the way that even Max doesn't know if he wants kids, but knows that Grant's certainty about his future doesn't feel right to him right now. And Penny lying on Max's behalf so he can maintain his image with the group was genuinely sweet. For the most part, the group rips on each other mercilessly, but occasional moments like that allow the insults to not feel quite so nasty.
Add in Colin Hanks gamely making fun of his place in Hollywood, not to mention the way the show managed to make a Dave-centric storyline work (mainly by making it be about other people's reactions to Dave, rather than anything Dave did), and you have a season highlight. I'm even fine with the show dipping a toe back into the Dave/Alex waters. While the focus on their break-up was one of the biggest problems in the series' bumpy early days, both the show and those characters (Alex in particular) have evolved a lot since then, and this could be fun.
What did everybody else think?