Review: 'Cougar Town' - 'Money Becomes King': Fifty-fifty vs. 100%

Jules and Grayson go to couples counseling, Laurie starts a business and Andy pranks Bobby

<p>Travis tries to give Laurie some advice on &quot;Cougar Town.&quot;</p>

Travis tries to give Laurie some advice on "Cougar Town."

Credit: ABC

A quick review of tonight's "Cougar Town" coming up just as soon as I find enough courage to pull a tab off the "Drummer Wanted" poster...

"Money Becomes King" opens with an homage — or outright copying, if you prefer — of one of my favorite "Cheers" intros, where the bar sings a lullaby to a baby by telephone, then prematurely celebrates and wakes the baby up. It's such a good joke, though, and close to 30 years old, that I'm okay with doing it pretty much beat-for-beat, particularly since the show is already doing more with integrating Tampa/Jill into the crew's life than ever happened with Stan as a baby.

And one of the things that the third season of "Cougar Town" has handled well is how much more complicated everyone's life has gotten. Grayson has a baby, and he and Jules are getting married, and they need to figure out whose house to keep. Stan is getting older and has turned into a monster due to some combination of his mother's example and her neglect. Travis is figuring out what he wants to do with his life. Laurie is starting a business. Etc. Things aren't as simple as they used to be, and for the most part, the show has done a good job wringing both jokes and pathos out of that.

Though most of "Money Becomes King" worked — particularly anything involving Laurie as the charismatic queen of the pathetic CoffeeBucks regulars — I will say I didn't love some of the material involving the return of Nicole Sullivan as Jules' therapist Lynn. On the one hand, it's amusing that Jules keeps dragging everyone in her life into couples counseling whenever they cross her in the slightest. On the other, her interruptions of Lynn's other sessions, claiming domestic abuse to get Lynn to make a house call, etc., feels like one of those things from the Bill Lawrence canon — see also the way Turk and J.D. drove Hooch crazy, or on this show how the gang treats Tom —where the central character just starts to seem like an asshole after a while. Having the gang treat Tom the way they do is one thing, but having them start trampling on other people in the same way doesn't sit right.

(It worked in the Laurie plot because of the bit where Travis asks why all these people are working for free, and Tom speaks for the group by saying they want to be a part of something. There's a similar attempt made when Jules notes that she's Lynn's most lucrative patient, but it didn't quite land for me. Maybe it's just that Jules is prickly and needy and manipulative to begin with, so it doesn't take a lot to push her into pure sociopathy, where Laurie has more karma/likability stored up.)

What did everybody else think?

Alan-sepinwall-sm
Alan Sepinwall
Sr. Editor, What's Alan Watching
Alan Sepinwall has been reviewing television since the mid-'90s, first for Tony Soprano's hometown paper, The Star-Ledger, and now for HitFix. His new book, "The Revolution Was Televised," about the last 15 years of TV drama, is for sale at Amazon. He can be reached at sepinwall@hitfix.com
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