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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

'Happy Endings' S2: 'Friends' with 'Benefits'

The very funny ABC friendcom "Happy Endings" is the latest show in which my interest was resparked watching it on DVD.

The DVD set of "Endings'" sophomore season is being released on October 23, 2012. This coincides with the premiere, which will be Tivo-worthy, of the show's third (but hardly junior) season. This show will follow up on the significant changes in the friends' lives in last April's season finale.

"Endings" is the version of "Friends" that "South Park" and "Book of Mormon" creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker would have created. Picturing Joey as a gleefully chubby sloppy gay man helps understand this concept.

Like "Friends," "Endings" revolves around a group of childhood friends and their college buddies hanging out at their favorite hotspot and each others' Chicago homes. Like their "Friends" counterparts, they also are roommates or spouses.

The "Friends" similarities began with the mid-season series premiere of "Endings" that revolved around the after-math of Alex, played by "24's" Elisha Cuthbert being a literal runaway bride during her wedding to Dave, played by "Flashforward's" Zachary Knighton. 

Despite Alex being at least as flighty and fashion oriented as "Friends'" Rachel, no one would root for the mountain lion as we did when Cuthbert's character Kim Bauer on "24" faced becoming puma chow. Alex is simply an amusingly impulsive woman who regularly sabotages herself.

One of Alex's shining moments during "Endings'" second season was reverting to her high school self when a group of popular "Heathers" teen girls began frequenting her boutique because Alex sold baby t-shirts that the girls wore as tube tops. The "Daddy's Girl"  and "I Have to Poop" shirts were the funniest.

Like "Friends'" Chandler, Dave is a nice guy with bad luck. During the second season, he films a painfully horrible advertisement for his barely viable food truck called "Steak Me Home Tonight" and sabotages his chance for a threesome with two hotties. 

However, Dave does look much better cooking steak in just his boxers than Matthew Perry would have even during his "Friends" days.

Damon Wayans, Jr., who plays Brad, who is the Ross of the "Endings" crew, definitely got great comedy genes and lessons from his dad and uncles, who could be considered the black Marx Brothers of the '90s. Like the earlier generation of Wayans, Damon Jr. has enough self-confidence to be the brunt of black jokes and make them himself. 

The elder Wayans would have likely done better with Damon Jrs. effort at "Blackass," which was a black version of the moronic stunt show "Jackass," but the idea was a good one.

Brad's second season highlights include trying to follow through on romantic Valentine's Day plans despite being under the influence of strong pain killers. This hilarious episode included having Brad play with toy dinosaurs and referring to his buddies as their "Friends" counterparts.

Eliza Coupe is perhaps the creepiest of the group only in that she is the Monica of the gang but married the Ross of the group. She is best known as mean blonde girl "Jo" on "Scrubs" and plays Jane, a more neurotic and nicer version of that character on "Endings."

Jane provides some of the best humor of the second season in an episode that has her hunting down the daughter who she believes was conceived with an egg that she donated while in college. Seeing Jane trying to lure the middle-school girl into a creepy old van was hilarious.

That episode also had Adam Pally's Max, who is the group's gay Joey, begin the preliminary steps of producing his sperm bank deposit in a video that he did not realize was just designed to let potential clients learn about him. 

The wonderfully lack of self-conscious nature of Pally allowed us to see Max rock skin-tight white pants with an even tighter Lady Di t-shirt and trying to seduce a firefighter while wearing just tighty whiteys. 

Just as "Friends'" Phoebe was often in the background, Casey Wilson's Penny is the last friend featured in this review. A second season episode in which cats invading her apartment and episodes of "The View" mysteriously appearing on her Tivo make 29 year-old Penny concerned about spinsterhood had very funny moments.

Many other hilariously twisted moments from this great season involved noteworthy guest stars. Penny and her mother, played by Megan "Karen" Mullally, sing out their feelings regarding childhood trauma that included becoming homeless. Ed Begley, Jr. plays a more fanatical and hostile version of his eco-oriented self in another Mullally episode.

Despite these great moments, the best guest-star episode has "Veronica Mars'" and "Party Down's" Ryan Hansen. He plays a guy who has not matured since college who Penny not-so-subtlely manipulates into growing up. 

A scene in which Penny "accidentally" spills coffee on Hansen's hockey jersey and gives him the choice of the two men's dress shirts that she "happens" to have in her purse is a great moment. Hansen fans may be disappointed to not see him parade around in an American flag speedo.

The bottom line is that fans of wonderfully dark and cynical, but good natured humor, or  anyone who ever wondered what a marriage between siblings Ross and Monica Geller would look like should buy the season two DVD of "Happy Endings."

Anyone with questions or thoughts regarding "Happy Endings" is encouraged to email me.