TV Review: Relocated ‘Cougar Town’ Might Not Be Worth Finding

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CHICAGO – When ABC canceled “Cougar Town” after three seasons of mediocre ratings offset by some critics who were surprisingly loyal to the show, TBS swooped in and grabbed it up for a potential two seasons, the first of which premieres tonight, January 8, 2013. The show had some strong episodes but also a very inconsistent rhythm in its time on ABC and I hoped that the move along with the vote of confidence from the network would reinvigorate everyone involved to bring their A-game. My hopes were slightly dashed by the episodes sent to press, all of which have their laughs and display the talents of the cast but all of which also waste the opportunity to reboot, choosing to recycle instead. Television Rating: 2.5/5.0
Television Rating: 2.5/5.0

The best thing about “Cougar Town” has long been the cast. The show was nearly disastrous in the first season when it focused too heavily on Jules (Cox) and her search for sex and love. It found its critical following and a few loyal fans when it expanded to more closely resemble “Friends,” developing the entire ensemble instead of just focusing on one lead. Busy Philipps, who plays Laurie, started to really shine, even winning some awards, and other supporting players like Dan Byrd and Brian Van Holt were given a chance to shine.

Cougar Town
Cougar Town
Photo credit: TBS

When a show is pushed through the door on one network and moves to another, wouldn’t you assume that is the time to iron out anything that isn’t working, take some risks, and really elevate a show? Would you be surprised to know that the season premiere of TBS is NO different than it would have been on ABC? In fact, the show feels even more desperate for laughs but that’s because it’s telling the same jokes. Most people who stumble upon the show on TBS could easily mistake the season premiere for a repeat given the network’s tendency to air past hits like “The Big Bang Theory.” For “Cougar Town” to really work on TBS, it needed to feel fresh and new. A new start and not just a new home. That’s not the case.

However, it’s not a complete loss. “Cougar Town” is one of those shows in which the ensemble is talented enough that any week could produce major laughs. Philipps, Byrd, Cox, and Van Holt rule and I don’t mean that as a slight on Ian Gomez, Christa Miller, or Josh Hopkins. They’re all good here. It’s the writing that frustrates me. There are a lot of sitcoms on network TV working with talented ensembles that don’t get enough press — “Happy Endings,” “Go On,” “Suburgatory,” “The Middle,” “Raising Hope” — and I feel like “Cougar Town” needs to do more to be a place to visit. Especially now that the “Town” has moved to a new neighborhood that might be harder to find.

“Cougar Town” stars Courteney Cox, Christa Miller, Busy Philipps, Dan Byrd, Josh Hopkins, Ian Gomez, and Brian Van Holt. It premieres on TBS on Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at 9pm CST. content director Brian Tallerico

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