TV on DVD Review: Cougar Town -- The Complete First Season (2009-2010)

Now Available to Own

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Luckily for likable Friends star Courtney Cox, her most recent foray into situation comedy finds its footing after nearly a full disc’s worth of introductory episode misfires which were almost as abysmal as the cheaply salacious title itself. Thereby it indicates that Scrubs and Spin City mastermind Bill Lawrence’s Cougar Town was as desperately in need of finding itself right alongside Cox’s recently divorced forty year old single mother main character, Jules.

Following an overly broad and unappealingly vulgar pilot that fused the raunchiness of Two and a Half Men with the same “you go, girl” mentality of Sex and the City, gradually Cougar, which centers on Jules’ journey back into the often comically bewildering and emotionally landmine-filled world of dating in the twenty-first century, managed to bounce back as quite a network contender.

And even though a dubious yet fortunate Golden Globe nomination for Courtney Cox most likely inspired the January 2010 decision to renew the series for a second season, unfortunately Cougar Town had already lost anywhere from four to six million average weekly viewers before the quality of the series began its steady upward climb.

Yet, thanks to its unorthodox embrace of makeshift family relationships, once again Cox reminds us why she’s the Friend we’d all love to have in our inner circle as Cougar Town refocused its energies in a way you can witness in ABC’s recently released colorful three-disc DVD set.

Finding inspiration for the titles of its twenty-two first season episodes from Florida native Tom Petty’s catalog of songs and evening out its early tendency towards estrogen overload by tackling more hot women’s topics than you’d find in a typical issue of Cosmopolitan magazine, Cougar Town’s talented and largely female staff of writers and directors ensure that the men on the block never get lost in the shuffle.

Dealing less with the body image issues and mixed signals to be discovered in the single life and more with life after forty, Bill Lawrence’s new and improved Cougar (version 2.0) digs for comedic gold by spending most of its time on the show’s tight-knit group of dysfunctional co-dependents who either live by, were or are related to or work with successful Florida realtor Jules.

Thus, when it ignores the “cougars” to surround itself amongst the “town,” Lawrence and co-creator Kevin Biegel craft something that feels like a natural progression from Scrubs considering its ensemble approach, love of bromances, pop culture and slightly heightened but toned down broad-comedy.

A delightfully sillier version of The New Adventures of Old Christine, Cougar Town comes complete with hanger-on ex-husband Bobby (Brian Van Holt) and nearly college bound son Travis (Dan Byrd). Lawrence and Biegel round out the cast with Jules’ no-nonsense best friend Ellie (irreplaceable scene stealer Christa Miller), her whipped but sweet husband Andy (Ian Gomez), hot neighbor turned “cul-de-sac crew” member Grayson (Josh Hopkins), and Jules’ adorably clueless twenty-something co-worker Laurie (Busy Philipps).

Needless to say and similar to Christine, Samantha Who?, Will & Grace or Sex and the City, it’d be a refreshing change to be confronted with a series wherein our female lead doesn’t have to consistently make such an absolute fool out of herself. Still, Town at least gets points for doing its damnedest to avoid falling into the sitcom “type” trappings, by not really qualifying as a traditional workplace or family style series.

And by giving itself the opportunity to explore any arena it chooses while supplying us with as many as three to four subplots in a given episode, which is quite a feat for a twenty-two minute production when the average is two “problems” per show, Town constantly reinvents itself from one week to the next, disproving Jules’ fear that you can’t change after forty.

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FTC Disclosure: Per standard professional practice, I received a review copy of this title in order to evaluate it for my readers, which had no impact whatsoever on whether or not it received a favorable or unfavorable critique.