Monday, October 15, 2018

REVIEW: 'Happy Together' - Getting into Better Shape Proves Difficult for Jake and Claire in 'Let's Work It Out'

CBS' Happy Together - Episode 1.03 "Let's Work It Out"

When Cooper has to get in shape for an underwear ad, Jake and Claire are inspired to ditch their junk food and join his ultra-healthy lifestyle. With the help of Cooper and his trainer, Antoine, Jake and Claire go on the most intense diet and exercise program of their lives.

In 2018, it has become very difficult to keep up with every television show out there. It's even more difficult to provide adequate coverage on this site about the episodes that air every week. Not every show can get full coverage because of my busy and hectic viewing schedule. As such, some reviews will now be condensed to give only some summary thoughts. But it also affords a space for me to jot down my thoughts on the various episodes. And so, here are my thoughts on this week's episode of CBS' Happy Together.

"Let's Work It Out" was written by Brad Stevens & Boyd Vico and directed by Andy Ackerman

The buildup to Jake's attempt at dunking a basketball teased the audience that the stunt was about to go awry in some way. And yet, his falling into the garage door and essentially breaking it is the first genuine laugh from the new comedy so far. That proves that things continue to be advancing in the right direction for the sitcom. This episode never quite reaches that comedic high again. It may only work because of how extreme it is with the physical comedy being so unexpected and yet rewarding. The overall story is filled with jokes that have been done before. Sitcom characters are trying to get in better shape and so they are forced to drink some concoction that is green and apparently tastes horrible. This show finds no new creative spin on that familiar story setup. It's told exactly as it always is. As such, it's very tiring and unoriginal. Elsewhere, it seems like the show is setting up yet another example of a sitcom character being fat previous to the events of the show. Fortunately, the show doesn't feature flashbacks to Cooper's chubby days. The show doesn't submit him to a fat suit not considering just how ridiculous that looks and unfunny it is. It does afford a couple of solid puns as Jake and Claire make fun of him. But the punchline of it all mostly comes from Cooper not really being fat at all. His idea of poor body image is just barely having a six-pack. To him, that's a disaster. To Jake and Claire, he looks perfectly fine and doesn't need to work out or worry as much as he does. But they also realize that they are getting older and their bodies are changing. Sure, it would be appreciated if the show could go one week without mentioning the age difference between the characters. Yes, that's a significant part of the show. But right now, it's led to the same kind of joke setup where it's Jake and Claire doing something because Cooper or her parents have wildly different opinions on it. Again, that's not inherently bad. It would just be amusing to see some different character pairings develop over time. Moreover, it's going to be really fascinating to see how the show continues to handle Amber Stevens West's real-life pregnancy. It is already clear that they are hiding her behind a bunch of random items or forcing her to do weird physical comedy that means she can only show off her backside or is crouched over a staircase. If it's already clear that this is being hidden in the third episode, then I have to wonder why it's necessary to hide it at all? It's only going to become more distracting as well because of keen eyed viewers who know exactly what's going on. Sure, it's not getting in the way of the storytelling or Jake and Claire's connection. West and Damon Wayans Jr. continue to be having a blast as this married couple who understand each other so well. I'm just a little concerned about the future because of the trend that is being established right now. Soon, a pillow won't be enough to hide everything. Plus, she happens to be sitting down a lot. And yet, that also means there is an extra layer to the joke that she is now wearing maternity jeans. That's unexpected and definitely playing to a certain segment of the audience.