Status: Premiering Wednesday, September 23rd @ 9:30pm on ABC
When I heard the premise and title of this project months and months ago, I definitely threw it aside as one for the junk heap. A one-note joke played several times too often over the span of a rubbish-filled 23 minutes. So I was surprised when I enjoyed (but did not fall head over heels for) the pilot, again, aside from those opening moments, which have the beautiful Cox staring in a mirror, dressed in nothing but a towel, and squeezing parts of her body that are showing signs of wear and tear. That the camera does a close up on the "waddle" of underarm fat and unsightly stomach ripples makes me believe that the body parts in question don't actually belong to the gorgeous Courtney Cox. Movie magic, you know? Anyway, it's a jarring start.
Aside from some startling opening visuals, Cougar Town (which is the name of the town...) goes down easy and Courtney gets to revisit the light-yet-endearing realm of sitcom star after venturing unsuccessfully into Dirt. Real estate agent Jules Cobb is prone to physical comedy, which plays well to Courtney's strengths.
The plot is what you expect. A single mom / divorcee in her mid-30s decides to seek male companionship with hot, young guys. But, blissfully, it's played as something Jules rejects, struggles with (what with having a teenage son... and getting caught...), and finally accepts. If an across the cul-de-sac neighbor played by Josh Hopkins (who I really wish would get recast as there isn't much chemistry between him and Cox... due to him... and, ultimately, you'd think that they are meant to be together) can do it, so can she!
The plot isn't what you come for, though. In fact... on paper, everything about this show is really, really wrong. There isn't really a female empowerment message, as the answer to Jules's problems, at first, really does seem to be going out and getting laid for the first time in a long while. The word "cougar" has been so overplayed in the last few years that it's practically lost all meaning. But it somehow works.
You come for Courtney Cox on top of her game. You come for her character's friendship with a married neighbor (Christa Miller) and with her work partner (Busy Phillips), both of whom get plenty of opportunity to shine (Christa Miller seems to hits similar notes to Jordan in Scrubs, but far less Alpha Bitch). You come for the incredibly sitcom antics of her ex-husband (could he be any more of a caricature?) that surprisingly work in the heightened reality of this single-camera world... and help make you sympathize with put-upon son, Travis (played by Aliens in America's Dan Byrd). And you come for the little moments (such as finding an even older woman making cat claw gestures at Jules as encouragement in a club when Jules starts talking to a young man, and Busy Phillips's delivery of the line "Sweetie, you know you're not coordinated enough to walk backwards in heels.")
Again, it shouldn't work. But I found myself invited back. I don't know how many visits I'll be making to Cougar Town... that all depends on whether the show can hit a few newer notes.