A quick review of last night's "Happy Endings" coming up just as soon as I make a straw harpoon...
Well, that was pretty terrific, was it not?
Where most episodes of "Happy Endings" split the ensemble up into two or three groups, "Party of Six" kept everyone together the whole time for a single plot involving Penny's birthday curse and the search for a restaurant that would tolerate all six of them. There were small side stories within that, like Brad and Jane's fight or the return of Dave's underage date from the series pilot, but essentially it was the group hanging out together and pushing towards the same goal.
And by stripping away all the extra plot that comes in a typical episode, there was room for even more comedy than before — to really dwell on the gang's slo-mo walk to Run-DMC's still-transcendent "King of Rock," or to let Alex jump back and forth between "Miracle" and "Goonies," to name just two of many examples — but also to really delve into the dynamics of the group as a whole.
I talk sometimes in these reviews about whether these people actually like each other or just hang out together because no one else will have them, and I think Jane's inspirational speech about the curse served as a kind of mission statement about who these people are and why they are simultaneously horrible and awesome:
"That curse should be scared of us, because we are a bunch of criminals and sex addicts with terrible judgment, and we can ruin everything we put our minds to!"
Seriously, there were so, so many great jokes in this one that I could take half the morning quoting them, but you saw it, and you are more than welcome to do that in the comments. I'll just name one more for now, which was the episode's very last joke: after the old woman curses Max, Penny, Dave and Alex to swap bodies(*), Pally, Wilson and Knighton all very clearly establish who's in their bodies now, while the only way for Elisha Cuthbert to get across who she's become is to mutter "I'm Dave," because Dave (even in an episode that featured several good Dave-related gags, like the "Never Been Kissed" comparison and his obsession with being a "restaurant owner") is just that colorless.
(*) And who would not want to see an entire "Happy Endings" episode where they made fun of body swapping comedies while letting the actors go to town imitating each other?
I'm going to need to sit with it for a bit, but that may have been my favorite "Happy Endings" to date.
What did everybody else think?