Once again, ABC surprised critics and fans alike in the spring of 2012 when “Happy Endings” was renewed for a third season. Though never privy to the large audiences of some other ensemble sitcoms, the cult comedy has fashioned itself a loyal fanbase. “Happy Endings” is another one of those twenty-somethings-living-in-a-big-city (this time, Chicago instead of the usual New York City) shows, but its charm lies in the chemistry among the six-piece ensemble cast.

Happy Endings

Season Three Premiere
Tuesdays at 9 p.m.
ABC


In the season two finale, married couple Jane (Eliza Coupe) and Brad (Damon Wayans Jr.) received a bit of bad news: Brad was laid off from his job, calling his full-speed-ahead mentality into question and causing him to rethink his workaholic nature. In “Cazsh Dummy Spillionaires,” Brad has already found a new job — but Jane has no idea, and she loves that her husband has more time to explore hobbies like cooking elaborate meals for her, taking bubble baths and practicing his hilarious ventriloquist dummy act “SinBrad.”

This gives way to great gags — Brad taking a fully clothed bubble bath and Skyping Jane from his new office with a cardboard backdrop of their living room behind him. But though this plot works because of Jane and Brad’s uber-competitive and obsessive personalities, it would have been nice to see Brad spend more time caught in limbo.

More consequential to the group dynamic was the escalation of Alex (Elisha Cuthbert) and Dave’s (Zachary Knighton) relationship. After spending much of the episode harping about their casualness while continuously trying to make each other jealous, the two quickly realize that they want to give it a chance again. The situation is addressed and subsequently resolved within the confines of the episode instead of spending half of a season in a will-they-won’t-they stasis.

The show’s premise sits on Alex and Dave’s disastrous almost-wedding in the pilot, which makes the rekindling all the more interesting.

This is all in favor of the Penny (Casey Wilson)-Dave-Alex love triangle that was introduced last season. There was no mention of Penny and Dave’s spark, and no jealousy exuded from her end when Alex and Dave announce their ridiculous plan to move in together again. Penny is perpetually single, which while funny, is also a bit grating. The complicated love triangle amongst best friends was a great development last season that will hopefully be revisited in a serious way in the future.

Max (Adam Pally), meanwhile, didn’t have much to do in the episode. But pairing Penny and Max together in a storyline is comedy heaven. The two have visible fun together, which translates easily to laughs. Max has been romantically uninvolved lately and it was nice seeing him get his groove back in the form of Penny’s rehab therapist. But it won’t translate into a long-term arc for him — though this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, a more permanent storyline for Max is always welcome.

Though there were some continuity inconsistencies, “Happy Endings” proved itself yet again as a viable contender in a crowded ensemble TV landscape. What’s great about “Happy Endings” is that it’s a show that just wants to have fun — a mission that is completely on display in “Cazsh Dummy Spillionaires.”

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