TV Diary | Cougar Town: “Ain’t Love Strange”
TV Diary | Cougar Town – Episode 3.01 – “Ain’t Love Strange” – Original Airdate: 2/14/12
Episode Grade: B+
I’ve been a bad TV blogger. I’ve been meaning to talk about the third-season premiere of Cougar Town for a couple of weeks now  but February is incredibly packed seeing as it’s a sweeps month so I’ve gotten way too far behind where I’d like to be. But that’s a big first-world problem and you all don’t really care about that. So… Cougar Town. In some respects, Cougar Town is almost ABC’s version of Community – a show with an almost as fiercely loyal fanbase that’s underperformed relative to what its network expected, leading to its uncertain place on said network’s schedule. In Community’s case, it actually got to begin its third season before being yanked off the air midway through it . Cougar Town was not afforded the same opportunity – ABC held it on the shelf until February, meaning that almost a year had passed since the show had last aired an original episode. For a show whose audience was tenuous at best, delaying it to the point where no one really knew when or if it was still on helped no one and the ratings for its return bore this out as it tallied the lowest viewership in series history for its season three premiere. Simply put, Cougar Town is fighting an uphill battle that it’s ultimately likely to lose, so it needs the help wherever it can get it. With that in mind, “Ain’t Love Strange” was kind of an odd way to return, even as I doubt that there were any longtime viewers  who weren’t touched by the episode’s final scene that saw Grayson pull off an elaborate marriage proposal to Jules that she ultimately accepted. I was very anxious for Cougar Town to return since, to my mind, it’s one of the three or four best sitcoms currently on TV but, as much as I loved how the story ultimately came together, I’m not sure how this episode makes new fans. Its B- and C-stories fell more than a little flat  and a lot of the Jules/Grayson stuff was payoff for the past two seasons of the show, so someone maybe just jumping into Cougar Town for the first time wasn’t going to be as affected as a fan who’s watched things from the beginning would have. However… since I’m someone who’s been here since the first episode, I had a big idiot grin on my face as the proposal was unfolding. Being an Internet-savvy television fan, I was aware that the proposal was coming at some point this season but the way that it happened – Jules enlisting creepy neighbor and group-member-wannabe Tom to retaliate  against some teenagers that she thought vandalized her car only to realize that the car and the house that she intended to sully  were both elements of Grayson’s – was note perfect and boosted the episode almost an entire letter grade thanks to the big idiot grin I had on my face while watching it. Again, I’d be shocked if this didn’t end up being the last go-round for Cougar Town, and the entirety of “Ain’t Love Strange” wasn’t up to the best that Cougar Town is capable of, but despite all that I’m damned glad to see it back on the air and am determined to enjoy what very well could be the last batch of episodes we get from series creator Bill Lawrence and company.
 The premiere aired on Valentine’s Day. Yup. I’m kind of lazy.
 Plug: Though it is returning Thursday, March 15 at 8PM on NBC. Watch. Please watch.
 Assuming that they were able to find the show and remember that it hadn’t yet gone off to that great network schedule in the sky.
 There was definitely more funny material in the “Stan is a devil child who torments Ellie and Andy” than there was in the “Bobby wants a favor from Travis” story, although the Bobby/Travis storyline did have green screen fun.
 Hilariously dubbed, “Operation Revengeance.”
 Which, in another nice touch, turned out to be one of her own listings.
*Your eyes didn’t deceive you – Cougar Town is likely the only show where a character would think to buy special lanyard/necklaces for their friends to be used to hold wine glasses. There’s a reason that this show was almost renamed Wine Time, people.
*And speaking of the name change, yes, the “Cougar Town” name has long since outlived its usefulness seeing as the show has long since abandoned the “Courtney Cox bangs younger guys” conceit of the first third of its debut season. However, it’s still saddled with the awful title in part because (as Lawrence mentioned in interviews leading up to the season premiere) the show’s audience is smaller than most would hope and for anyone who has their DVR season pass set for Cougar Town, changing the name would negate those recordings and thus cannibalize an audience that’s already too small for ABC’s liking. DVRs have revolutionized the way we watch television but this is one instance where they might have actually been a hindrance.
*Anyone surprised that Bobby would have trouble wrapping his head around the concept of the green screen? No? Good.
*Tom sleeps in the nude. Because of course he does.
*Best smash cut: Ellie saying about Stan, “I’m just afraid of who he’s going to turn out like.” Cut to Stan and Lori horsing around while wearing matching house arrest ankle bracelets.
*What’s with Grayson’s weird obsession with Jules’ nighttime mouthguard? “One day I will sleep with you after you’ve put that vile thing in your mouth. It’s my Everest.”
*Opening Title Gag: “Yeah… it’s still called Cougar Town. We’re not happy about it either.”
*Grayson Song Subject Of The Week: Jules’ beyond-predictable morning routine.
*”Wait… are we only drinking on the weekends now? Because we need to vote on that.”
*”Hey… none of you are gonna get girlfriends until you cut your hair and take a shower. Yeah, that’s not true. When I was younger I was crazy about longhairs.”
*”When it comes to love I am a street-rappin’ poet, yo.”
*”I’m gonna have to throw my too creepy flag.” “I knew it.”
*”Someone is going to get hit with a hammer.”
*”Just when I thought you were gonna zig you zig.”
*”Oh my God… it’s really happening. Please don’t make me kiss.”
*”Of course, some devil babies are just devil babies. Sorry… I had to say that.” “I get that.”
*”You know how susceptible my mind is to other people’s thoughts.”
*”Prison’s great. You can get those neat teardrop tattoos.”
*”I’m not boring, am I?” “No, you’re a crazy person.”
*Episode below courtesy of Hulu.