Aside from a few one-liners and catchy turns-of-phrase, Happy Endings' season three premiere was upstaged by its excessive pre-show publicity. Little was left to the imagination before the show aired; we knew Penny would be motionless in a half-body cast, Dave and Alex would try and keep it "cas" and Brad would have a puppet named Sinbrad.
In an attempt to hype up and broaden their audience base, the cast and crew of this ABC comedy in its third round beat us to the punch by sharing its punchlines too early.
Certain scenarios played out creatively, such as Penny's fall from grace in the first five minutes, when she tumbled down a staircase "like a slinky with breasts." Or Max "Misery-ing" Penny, "like Kathy Bates, only fatter" using Sleepington's tea and Lunesta. But other than Dave and Alex's horrendous new highlights, we were left thirsty for more laughs after the show's brief debut.
Moving forward, this highly anticipated primetime series could go one of two ways: it could disappoint expectations and please its haters in becoming stale or continue to reinvent itself as it did last season with surprising character development and a slew of guest appearances.
We wonder if Penny's feelings for Dave will come to light, if her physical trainer Kent (Matthew Del Negro) is into her or Max, and whether Alex and Dave will finally make it to the alter without a runaway bride. And we would hate to think of anything disrupting Brad and Jane's marital bliss; they have, after all, sifted through heavy muck: Jane's recently revealed egg donation and Brad's lay-off (not to mention various lies he's been caught in before, like owning a motorcycle or wanting to dump Jane before they got engaged).
At various points throughout Tuesday night's performance, we giggled because of its absurdity. Who goes space-jumping from a rooftop in downtown Chicago? What if Brad actually had hobbies like dance-cooking, candle-making, and puppeteering? And how did Penny escape from her bedroom in a half-body cast, get caught in a fence and manage to get graffiti'ed and pee'd on?
But playing with words, as its improv-heavy cast tends to do, can air on the side of egotistical. At times, it's more obvious the characters find themselves funnier than the audience does. For instance, as Alex and Dave engage in tongue-in-cheek, flirtatious banter, referring to each other as "bro," then "Bro v. Wade" and eventually, "brovine growth hormone," we envision a writers' room replete with smarts and wit trying too earnestly to please themselves.
Bottom line: To keep us engaged, the show needs to be more outlandish and throw us for a loop without getting too heavy or revealing too much in the pre-show commercials, Facebook posts and tweets.